Obrázky stránek

Our Decennial.


We hope our readers will indulge us to-day in a somewhat free talk about this magazine, which, with this number, reaches its tenth birthday, and begins the eleventh year of its existence. Ten years ago, the first number of SCRIBNER'S MONTHLY was issued, with all the confidence naturally growing out of a considerable knowledge of other enterprises, and a profound ignorance of the particular business in hand. It was generally supposed by the publishing fraternity, and by the public as well, that there was no room, or call, for another magazine, and the prophecy was freely indulged in that the new enterprise would fail; but it was believed by those who had the project in charge that there was room in abundance for such a magazine as they proposed to make. SCRIBNER'S MONTHLY has met with a remarkable success, simply because it was conducted from the first by an ideal standard. There was no popular magazine in existence which it took for a model. It aimed at a higher excellence in art than had thitherto been attempted, and a fresher, more vigorous and more inspiring literature than had been exemplified in any popular periodical, American or foreign. It has not only accomplished what it undertook, but we believe it has greatly modified and elevated the work of its contemporaries.

When we began the publication of The Monthly, "magazine literature," as it was called, had a distinctive character, into which it had settled as into a rut. The traditions and influence of the old "Knickerbocker" had not been outlived. The quarterlies and monthlies, which within a few years have shaken off their lethargic ways, were devoted to ponderous, or dull, or conventional performances, without any vital connection or sympathy with the current topics of thought or phases of social life. Now all this has been changed. We have no more of the long-drawn gossip of literary idlers and pretentious triflers. The special theater for the exhibition of the literary dandy was the magazine of former days, and it must be confessed that his piping and posturing attracted a considerable amount of admiring attention. Now, even the quarterlies have become almost frisky with the new spirit, and in the place of dull and tedious discussions of old questions, we have sparkling essays on living topics. How much influence this periodical has had in introducing the new order of magazine literature, we cannot tell, but it was surely the first to adopt it; and for that very purpose was it created. We feel more certain of the influence of The

Monthly upon popular illustrative art. We believe that we do no injustice to any periodical when we say that ten years ago there was not one in existence which we could safely have taken as a model,-whose standard was such as would have enabled us to achieve our unexampled success. The fact has been recognized, at home and abroad, that America has made a great stride ahead of the world in woodengraving. Nowhere in the world is the art of

SCRIBNER'S MONTHLY more highly esteemed than among the homes of art in Europe. Wherever, on the other side of the Atlantic, the magazine goes, it is recognized as a leader and reformer in popular illustrative art. Not only this, but it is recognized as the great stimulating power, under the influence of which American engraving has become the best engraving of the world. We say with boldness, and we believe it to be strictly true, that American engraving has achieved its eminence in the world simply because SCRIBNER'S MONTHLY has demanded, guided and stimulated it. We have experimented freely in all directions, and although the results have not always justified our efforts, the grand result has been a great and permanent advance in art, and a world-wide renown for American woodengraving.

After some years of experience and observation, we instituted the policy of publishing exclusively American serial stories. Concluding that only a few American novelists were developed, simply because the works of British writers were brought into a depressing and even a suppressing competition with them, we discarded the cheaply purchased English serial, and now, for several years, have published no novels save those by American writers. We account it a great honor to have discovered, through the adoption of this policy, such a man as George W. Cable, the author of "Old Creole Days," and of "The Grandissimes," just concluded in this magazine, and such a woman as Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of "That Lass o' Lowrie's." This policy of developing home writers of fiction, we propose to follow still, and to pursue it until we have a school of them,-of men and women whose works shall not only command a hearing at home but abroad. We believe that the country which produced Hawthorne and Cooper can still produce their equals or their betters, and we assume it as a part of our duty to give them a chance, and to shield them, at least in this magazine, from the ruinous competition of low-priced serials by foreign authors.

We would like to say a word just here for that much-abused product spoken of contemptuously as "magazine poetry.' We wish very decidedly to express our belief that the cream of the poetry produced and published is “magazine poetry." The very choicest product of the American muse makes its appearance in the magazines. If that is not good verse, then there is no good verse written. We know of no volume of verse that could be collected to-day and published with a better prospect of a large sale, than one made up from the twenty volumes of SCRIBNER now completed. Bryant, Stoddard, Stedman, William Morris, Bret Harte, Calverly, Christina Rossetti, George MacDonald, H. H., Celia Thaxter, Mrs. Piatt, Boyesen, Dobson, Gosse, Bayard Taylor, Charlotte F. Bates, King,-these are not the writers of worthless verse, and writers less known have often contributed verse that was quite worthy of


a place by the side of theirs. In short, we verily believe that no one poet in this country or Great Britain has published during the last ten years a volume of verse of such excellence as can be culled from the pages of Scribner's MontHLY, and we hope that such a volume will be collected and published, and that very soon. It is quite time that this senseless talk about or against magazine poetry were stopped. It is an insult and a discouragement to the best writers we have, and a slight upon the most careful, and, in all respects, the best literary work there is done in the country.

Will our readers bear with us, on this anniversary, when we attempt to give them a summing-up of what we have done for them, for the small sum of forty dollars? We have given them twenty large volumes of good illustrated reading, on all possible topics, These voland in all possible forms of literary art. umes have contained sixteen thousand seven hundred and thirty-two pages of matter, illustrated by six thousand six hundred and eighty-eight wood-cuts, costing from ten dollars to three hundred dollars each. Out of the material published in these twenty volumes, there have been made and published over fifty books, the retail price of which amounts to more than twice the subscription price of the magazine during the whole period, to say nothing of other volumes to appear, like Schuyler's "Peter the Great," Sensier's "Life of Millet," Stedman's work on the American Poets, etc. We have had a list of the former made, and as our readers may like to see it, we herewith present it :

[blocks in formation]

At His Gates (M. O. W. Oliphant).

Victorian Poets (E. C. Stedman).

Arthur Bonnicastle (J. G. Holland).

Spiritual Songs from the German of Novalis (George MacDonald).

New Ways in the Old Dominion (Jed Hotchkiss).
Winter Sunshine (John Burroughs).
Birds and Poets (John Burroughs).
Drift from two Shores (Bret Harte).
The Great South (Edward King).
Old Creole Days (George W. Cable).
Katherine Earle (Adeline Trafton).
The Mysterious Island (Jules Verne).

A Farmer's Vacation (George E. Waring, Jr.).
Sevenoaks (J. G. Holland).

Rudder Grange (Frank R. Stockton).
Gabriel Conroy (Bret Harte).

Philip Nolan's Friends (Edward Everett Hale).

On the Iron Trail (A. C. Wheeler).

The Bride of the Rhine (George E. Waring, Jr.).

That Lass o' Lowrie's (Frances Hodgson Burnett).

Haworth's (Frances Hodgson Burnett).

Louisiana (Frances Hodgson Burnett).

Nicholas Minturn (J. G. Holland).

Surly Tim and Other Stories (Frances Hodgson Burnett).
His Inheritance (Adeline Trafton).

Year Book of Nature and Popular Science (J. C. Draper).
Roxy (Edward Eggleston).

Falconberg (H. H. Boyesen).

Success with Small Fruits (E. P. Roe).

The Grandissimes (George W. Cable).

The New Day (R. W. Gilder).

Locusts and Wild Honey (John Burroughs).

The Poet and His Master (R. W. Gilder).

Every Day Topics (J. G. Holland).

Some Impressions of London Social Life (E. S. Nadal). From Attic to Cellar (S. W. Oakey).

Old Time Pictures and Sheaves of Rhyme (B. F. Taylor). Wonders of the Yellowstone (James Richardson).

Exploration of the Colorado River (J. W. Powell).
Tales from Two Hemispheres (H. H. Boyesen).
The House Beautiful (Clarence Cook).

The Life and Works of Gilbert Stuart.

Brazil: The Amazons and the Coast (H. H. Smith).
Portfolio of Proof Impressions from SCRIBNER'S MONTHLY and

All these to say nothing of sundry volumes of verse made up largely of poems previously published in SCRIBNER, like those of Bret Harte, Mr. Lathrop, Mr. de Kay, Mrs. Dorr, Mrs. Dodge, the Goodale sisters, etc. The comparative cheapness of what we have furnished will be appreciated when we say that these books, whose titles we have given, are only a small part of the immense volume of material of which our twenty volumes are composed.

So much for the past. The hand that traces this editorial has had the privilege of contributing to this department of the magazine in every one of the one hundred and twenty-one numbers now issued. How long it will be able to do this-whether it is to have ten years more of this delightful work, and the privilege of this precious relation to a million interested and affectionate readers-cannot be known; but so long as it may be able to do this work, it will do it, before all other work, and rejoice in the doing. We offer the past as the promise for the future. We expect to accomplish more in the next decade than The we have accomplished in that just completed. We know the magazine is not and has never been in a rut, nor does it propose to get into one. charm of young blood, fresh ideas, and large enterprise, and we pledge our readers that when we become perfectly satisfied with the magazine,—when we can see nothing new to be done for it, and no chance to improve it,—we will retire from it forever, and give place to a worthier conductor.

It has been concluded to signalize the entrance upon a new decade of magazine life by the adoption It is the result of the of a freshly designed cover. work of an accomplished architect and decorator, and with the advice of several of the best artists and decorators we know, and it will probably stand as the permanent dress of our much beloved monthly. We know the attachment to old forms and faces, and presume that there will be some who will like the old cover best; but they will get over this as the new one becomes familiar, and will find it better than the old, as it most indubitably is.


IN the conduct of a magazine like this, in which art holds an equal place with literature, it is quite as necessary to study the popular taste and power of A man who is to appreciation as to study art itself. address a multitude must manage to keep the multitude within sound of his voice. Here is just where thousands of artists of all kinds fail, not to say anything of editors. They are disappointed if the world does not comprehend their work, and buy it, forgetting that they have not even endeavored to learn what the world wants,-carrying a fine scorn, perhaps, of the world's tastes and opinions in all matters of art. It is well, it seems to us, to look at art from the public side,-from the market side,-and

particularly to learn the limitations of the public appreciation of art, and to do what one can to make those limitations less.

In the reading of a magazine like this, there are always two distinct sets of people. One-far the larger-knows nothing of art. They have a love of the beautiful and of the pictorial, but have no knowledge whatever of the principles of art. They "know what suits them," and some of them have an idea that they know what ought to suit other people. They have a very great contempt, often, for pictures that are the result of a higher art and a deeper knowledge than they possess, and lose all patience with pictures that are beyond their scope of appreciation. These people always like smooth pictures, -the highest possible finish that can be attained, either with the brush or graver; and, whenever that finish of surface is wanting in a picture, it is condemned as imperfect. It is quite impossible for them to accept a sketch as of any value whatever. All lack of finish in their eyes is imperfection. The art that can convey a thought or fancy in a few lines and touches is of no account with them. The exteriorthe shell-means the whole of art to them. They prefer a photograph, with its clean, perfect, luminous surface, to a sketchy portrait in which the limner has caught the very spirit of his subject-beyond the reach of all photographs, as far as the soul sees deeper and is more intelligent than the sun. Such people would very much prefer one of Denner's portraits to one of Rembrandt's, and would delight in his delineation of the very minutest show of the texture of the skin, with its veins and hairs, as the farthest reach of art in portraiture. Mrs. Browning says:

"Art's the witness of what is Behind this show. If this world's show were all, Then imitation would be all in art."

And it is because that imitation is not all in art, and because that art, if nothing more than imitation, would not be worth cultivating at all, that we would like to lead these friends of ours to higher ground. Mrs. Browning further declares :

"That not a natural flower can grow on earth
Without a flower upon the spiritual side
Substantial, archetypal, all aglow
With blossoming causes-not so far away
That we, whose spirit-sense is somewhat cleared,
May not catch something of the bloom and breath."

If these declarations of the poetess are true, and they are indubitably so,-then the smallest value of art is in its finish, or its surface. The value of art -as even the value of nature-must be in what it reveals of spiritual truth, and not in its representation of external form and texture. The practical point we wish to make is just here: that that art is the best which subordinates everything to the revelation of spiritual beauty and verity. Now, the unlearned and unappreciating multitude will have nothing to do with an artistic suggestion. There VOL. XXI.-11.

must be no suggestions in art to them, no hints, no lack of completeness. Every thought must be written out in full, finished and ticketed. To them, as we have said before, a sketch has no meaning. It is simply an uncompleted picture, which distresses them with a sense of its imperfection. They can take no pleasure in it as a sketch, and to present a sketch in an engraving—no matter how much it may mean to an artist, no matter how much more fresh and vigorous and suggestive it may be, than it can ever be again, after the artist has finished it, in-doors and away from the sources of his inspiration-is to offend them. Indeed, some of them are inclined to regard it as an insult to their good sense. They have sometimes lost patience with this magazine for persisting in styles of illustration that were not to their liking; and now, on this decennial year, and in this decennial number, of the magazine, it is proper for us to say, and to boast-if we may be permitted to do so that the great success of our illustrations -a success which has made an era in the history of drawing and engraving-has grown out of the attempt to lift them, by all the ingenuities of expression we could bring to bear upon them, into spiritual significance. To this end, we have subordinated these matters of finish and smoothness utterly. If our readers will take up an English novel and look over its illustrations,-if they are at all of the typical sort, they will see, by comparing them with the illustrations they will find in this magazine, the difference which we are trying to define. The English picture is as devoid of all vital and spiritual significance as a watermelon, although it may be carefully drawn and well finished; while such pictures as can be found by scores in SCRIBNER are surcharged with grace and dramatic force and meaning. If SCRIBNER'S MONTHLY has not succeeded because it has endeavored to present the vitalities of art, as distinguished from its forms and conventionalities, then it is not because it has not endeavored to do so. We are glad to take the success of the magazine, and its present wide acceptance, as evidence that, in the policy we have pursued, we have not run away from our audience. The surface-worshipers have greatly diminished in numbers, though there are many of them yet left. Our people have seen so much less of fine art than those of France and Italy, that it has taken them longer to get inside of its meaning, and to understand its better methods; but they are rapidly acquiring knowledge in the right direction. We trust the time may soon come when they will have a hearty interest in the various experiments we make for their benefit, and understand the meaning of those essays in art which they have been wont to regard as fragmentary and imperfect. When a people can take an engraved hint in art as an engraved hint, and delight in it as such; when they can accept an engraved sketch as an engraved sketch, and delight in it as such for what it reveals and suggests of spiritual meaning, and not demand that both hint and sketch shall be realized in completeness of modeling and surface, they will have made a great advance, and be in a condition both to be instructed and delighted.

The Nihilists.

TO THE average American, the name of "nihilist" is a name of horror. It is identified with all that is repulsive in infidelity, and all that is damnable in crime. To the ordinary mind, a nihilist is a bad man, or a bad woman, who does not at all understand or weigh political questions, and who is insane enough to suppose that good can come of desperate measures, however poorly adapted they may be to secure the end sought. The nihilist commits a murder apparently in a wanton mood, and apparently for the sake of murder only; we do not understand the motive, or the bearing of the deed, and we can only regard it with horror and execration. By one thing, however, we have all been surprised in this connection, viz., the bravery and the loyalty to their confederates with which the nihilists have met the consequences of their crimes. Nothing approaches this courage and constancy but Christian martyrdom. There is another thing that has surprised us, viz., the fact that nihilists are found in the highest families, and not infrequently among the best women of Russia. With these latter facts in mind, it is quite time for us to suspect that the nihilist is not quite the bad person we have supposed him to be, and to inquire into his character, his policy and his motives.

We have been much interested and instructed by Mr. Axel Gustafson's article on this topic in the "National Quarterly Review" for July, and it seems to us that the American people, no less than the cause of truth and humanity, are under great obligations to him for his masterly setting forth of the facts concerning this terrible political sect. We cannot undertake in this article to present more than the conclusions at which the reader arrives in its perusal. We may say at the beginning that Mr. Gustafson does not argue the case for the nihilists, but presents his facts and his documentary evidence in such a way that no candid man can conclude the reading of his paper without feeling that the best and noblest men of Russia are in the ranks of the nihilists. The men who love liberty in Russia, the men who would like to see their nation enfranchised from the yoke of irresponsible personal government, the men who wish to see Russia progressing in the path of freedom from political and ecclesiastical tyranny, the men of noble aspirations for themselves and their country, the men of ideas and of courage and selfsacrifice, are nihilists. It is true that most of these look upon Christianity, as it is presented to them in the doctrines and forms of the Russian Church, as a worse than useless system of religion, but who is to blame for that? It is true, also, that the nihilist regards murder as a duty for which he is willing to sacrifice his own life, but who is to blame for that? It must be remembered that there is no lesson of desperate violence, and even of indiscriminate wrong, that he has not learned of his own government. He has been used all his life to seeing men banished, or murdered by his government, on suspicion of opposition to Czarism. He knows that no opinion or word of his, favoring the freedom of the people, or the subordination of the government to the good of

the people, will receive a moment's toleration. He has but to speak a word for himself or his nation, and the hounds of the government are set at once upon his track, and then he goes to prison, or to Siberia, or to the gallows. There can be no question, we suppose, that the sweetest blood of Russia is freezing in Siberia, and that, however mistaken the nihilists may be in their methods, they hold among their members the noblest souls of Russia. They have adopted the method of terrorism, as absolutely the only one at their command. Free discussion has no home in Russia. A slip of the tongue, even, is rewarded with imprisonment or something worse, so that these men and women, with a courage and a self-sacrifice that find few examples in modern history, devote themselves to the dangerous task of liberating their country from its double form of slavery.

We cannot do better here than to quote some of the authoritative declarations of the nihilist organs. They are taken from different documents, and explain themselves:

"Surely the liberty we crave and strive toward is not exorbitant; we only desire the right to free expression of our thoughts, the right to act independ ently and in accordance with our convictions; to have a voice in the State's affairs, and to know that our persons are protected against official whims. These, surely, are elementary rights of mankind, rights to which we are entitled because of our being human, and for whose vindication we call our brothers' aid."

"What would we do with a constitution under present circumstances? So long as the country is denied all justice, a constitution would be of no use to it. Let us be given justice without distinction of persons, and we shall be satisfied. But if the State chariot goes on as before, an old programme must be maintained; it is-Death to the court camarilla and to all criminal officials."

"We execrate personal government especially, because it has outraged by all its acts every feeling of justice and honor; because it systematically opposes freedom of thought, speech and education; ruption and political immorality, since it finds in because it supports for egotistical reasons social corthese both support and accomplices; because it makes law and justice the instruments of its personal interests; because it exhausts the material forces of the land, and lives at the expense of the welfare of coming generations; because by its home and foreign policy it has brought about a breach between our land and the rest of Europe; and because, after being weakened and martyred, we are exposed to the derision and contempt of our enemies.

"The problem of the socialistic revolutionary party is the subversion of the present form of gov ernment, and the subjection of the authority of the State to the people. * The transfer of the State power to the hands of the people would give our history quite another direction. A representative assembly would create a complete change in all our economic and State relations. Once let the government be deposed, and the nation would arrange itself far better, may be, than we could hope."

These declarations do not read like the words of bloodthirsty, and unreasoning, and unreasonable


fanatics. They are the words of men who "mean business," it is true, but of men who simply want what the American inherits as his birthright. American, in judging these brave men and women, should remember that the prevalent idea in Russia is that the people were made for the government, and not the government for the people. These nihilists differ with the prevalent idea, and so are in disgrace, and not only in disgrace, but in constant danger of imprisonment, banishment or death. They have been driven in their desperation to adopt the governmental policy of terrorism and cruelty. They meet threat with threat, terror with terror, death with death, because the government, with the total sup

pression of free discussion, leaves them no other weapons to fight with. We wish there were a better course for these noble souls to pursue, but we judge them not. Their methods seem harsh-sometimes almost fiendish-but they know what they are after, and they appreciate the awful risks they run. They have undertaken to redeem their country from misrule-a great task-in which we wish them entire success. We profoundly regret that they feel compelled to use the same machinery of terrorism and murder with which their government seeks for their overthrow, but we cannot do less than sympathize in their great object, and admire their courage and self-devotion.


Home-Decorations-Screens and Portières.

Look for a moment at the dull drawing-room of that period before the decorative leaven began its work within our homes, when chairs and sofas were ranged with mathematical precision against long, unornamented walls; when the piano was set between the two chimney-pieces, where fire never was; the center-table stood beneath the chandelier, the windows were darkened by lace and brocatelle, the shades drawn down, the register turned on, and, as was most natural, the "best room " abandoned to its melancholy state!

unbroken sweep of the stuff, becomes at once invested with a picturesque grace it could never otherwise acquire. This curtain should always be partly drawn, and the brass rod on which it depends set low enough to allow a glimpse, into the space beyond, of ceiling and frieze,—over door-shelf glittering with blue china,-Christmas holly, perchance, stuck in the frame of a convex mirror,-plaques and picturerods. A portière of Venetian yellow stuff, with an embossed pattern of conventionalized birds and branches upon it, hung thus in a dark room, is like sunshine in the rift of a shady wood. The tawny shades in drapery, the ambers, the old gold, the deep umber browns, the sunflower yellow, and the warm, golden chestnut, are almost sure to chime in delightfully, hang them where you will. Next come the royal crimsons and maroons. In plush-hangings, these colors succeed remarkably well, and should be crossed with bands, or edged with borders in outline embroidery in contrasting hues. Sage-greens,

It often happens that the home into which a young couple turn their steps is one of the oldfashioned, discouraging kind, with that supreme stumbling-block to decorators-the long, narrow parlor staring them in the face at the outset. We will suppose that the walls have been rehung with one of the papers so common now, that are furniture in themselves as well as pictures and sunshine, | lizard-greens, and bronze-greens are always satisand that one of the obnoxious twin chimney-pieces has been removed, and a book-case or cabinet set in its place, the other widened out for a low basketgrate, and framed in porcelain tiles. "It will be always long and narrow, like Barbara Allen's coffin!" says the mistress of such a room, in vexation. Let us quote for her benefit the bright saying of that essentially womanly woman, Delphine de Girardin, masquerading in her letters under the title of the Viscomte de Launay. "Set your wits to work," she counsels; "scatter your furniture, make little corners everywhere, and invest them with a sort of mysterious intimacy. Strew your lounges with pillows, your tables with books and flowers and work. Let each nook betray some trait or fancy of its mistress, and be sure that you can accomplish nothing of all this without the aid of screens. thing, screens."

Above every

She might have added, being a genuine Parisienne, "Where screens fail, try portières." The long room, divided beneath its customary stucco arch with a richly colored drapery, flowing full and free with the

factory. In blue, the dull tints of the Oriental fabrics wear better in a room than any more bright and positive. If these hangings, to be had now at various prices, are beyond the purse of the housewife, there are still numberless stuffs with which clever fingers can deal skillfully and produce artistic effects, at a merely nominal cost. Linen, momie-cloth, canton flannels dyed in lovely shades, cheese-cloth, ordinary coarse flannel in soft hues, can be bought very cheap and made up with home embroidery in bands. It is, in fact, quite an additional pleasure to make and hang these curtains for oneself, and to snap one's fingers at the shop-men, who walk serene amid encompassing draperies, like the people in "Arabian Nights,” and smile compassionately at the request to purchase anything at a price smaller than a king's


Mme. de Girardin's indispensable, the paravent, or screen, is now a familiar inmate in our homes. One runs upon Japanese screens in hall-ways, where they shut off the servants' stair-way to regions below and light up dark corners with a superb collocation

« PředchozíPokračovat »