Several books of considerable interest have been published this month, but there is no one book which towers above the rest far enough to justify special attention being paid to its contents. There are, however, three or four which may be mentioned among the most interesting of the new publications of the month.
The first is the thinly veiled story of the grievances of Queen Nathalie, which is published by Ollendorf, of Paris, under the title "Le Roi Stanko et la Reine Xenia." The wrongs of the unhappy Queen Nathalie are set forth in this volume with sympathizing pen. The identity of the various personages described in this chronique scandaleuse are easily recognizable. Queen Nathalie herself has retired into private life, while her own son has paid his first official visit to St. Petersburg. The contrast between the demonstrations of welcome which have been accorded the child, and the cold indifference with which his royal mother has been received in the country which gave her birth, is one of the unpleasant incidents in the development of the Eastern drama.
A very different book is the latest collection of the poems of Walt Whitman, entitled "Good-bye, My Fancy," a second annex to "The Leaves of Grass," published by David McKay, of Philadelphia. The book is published as a memorial of war times. The volume contains some of the articles which Walt Whitman has contributed to periodical literature of late years. We extract only one short poem with its characteristic foot-note:
FOR QUEEN VICTORIA'S BIRTHDAY
An American arbutus bunch to be put in a little vase on the royal breakfast-table, May 24, 1890:--
Lady, accept a birthday thought-- haply an idle gift and token
Right from the scented soil's May-utterance here
(Smelling of countless blessings, prayers, and old-time thanks)--
A bunch of white and pink arbutus, silent, spicy, shy,
From Hudson's, Delaware's, or Potomac's woody banks.
Of the English books, that which bears most closely upon current affairs is Harold Frederic's volume on the German Emperor. Mr. Harold Frederic is a thoroughly competent journalist. As the London correspondent of the New York Times he has distinguished himself as almost the only competent letter-writer from the Old World to the New. What Mr. G. W. Smalley was in his prime, some years ago, and more than, that Mr. Harold Frederic is now. He sometimes has a curious squint which prevents his seeing straight; but for good, all-round work, great industry, and capacity for saying what he has to say in clear, interesting English, Mr. Harold Frederic is the best of English correspondents. His book on "The Young Emperor" is thoroughly characteristic. It is clear, bright, well up to date and thoroughly "on the nail." But it bears also some of his characteristic blemishes. Mr. Frederic repeats as true the story that the Emperor Frederick had drawn up and signed his abdication, a statement which is stoutly denied by all those who ought to know, and there are other statements relating to the period of the Emperor Frederick's illness which have given considerable pain to those most concerned.
Still, after all deductions are made, it is a good and readable book, which appears just in the nick of time, and contains material enabling us to form a conception of the character of one of the most remarkable of modern rulers. It is to be regretted, however, that Mr. Frederic did not complete his book, firstly, by some careful chronological table of the acts and deeds of the young Emperor; secondly, that he did not give us an index; thirdly, that he did not reprint a verbatim translation of the Emperor's speech on education. Possibly he may do all these things in his second edition.