IN the Preface to "Fair Harvard" the author states, that when he showed his production to a friend, before its publication, and asked his advice, the advice was to this effect: to do one of two things, either burn the book or throw it into the North River. If some kind friend had overlooked "Student Life at Harvard," the advanced sheets of which are before us, and induced the author to adopt a course similar to one of these, the world would have been no great loser. We understand fully that to paint life here in such a way that everybody will be satisfied with the picture is an exceedingly difficult task. Four years is our generation, and no two generations are alike. Haunts, habits, and customs change with more rapidity than is generally recognized. The one thing that remains fixed is the tone of the place; and this indefinite atmosphere, which certainly exerts an influence on succeeding classes, can be explained in words only by a peculiar genius. Tom Hughes had this genius, and he has put into his book the tone of an English university; no one has yet been able to do the same for any American college.
The last attempt is no more of a failure than "Fair Harvard," and quite as entertaining. It follows very closely the track of its predecessor in the general plan, and even in such a small matter as the name of the hero. He is described as a "fresh, frank, noble-looking young fellow, full six feet tall, with an honest face, bright eyes, and thick, curling, chestnut hair," and is introduced talking with a "fine-looking young man, with dark side-whiskers," and "a smile which was strangely winning." They are sub-Freshmen who enter, agree to chum without having seen each other before, and whose adventures, together with those of about a dozen others, are given at length over five hundred and eighteen pages. Fifteen chapters are devoted to the Freshman, seven to the Sophomore, six to the Junior, and three to the Senior year.
The scene is not confined always to Cambridge, and the heroes are occupied more with female society than those of "Fair Harvard," and much more, it seems to us, than is the case with the average undergraduate of flesh and blood. Notwithstanding what we have said of the book, it is readable, and its faults are amusing. We advise those who want only to be entertained to read it, but we trust strangers anxious to get an idea of Harvard will not pin their faith to any great extent upon this production.
Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Emperor of the Romans, translated by GEORGE LONG. New and complete edition. Boston: Lee and Shepard. New York: Charles T. Dillingham. Price, $1.25.
WE have received an exceedingly neat little book containing the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, which Dr. Smith, in his History of Rome, classes among the most delightful productions of the human intellect. The name of the translator, known to us all through his Ancient Atlas, is a sufficient guaranty of the manner in which the translation has been made. We have room but for one extract. It applies particularly to those who find difficulty in going to prayers.
"In the morning when thou risest unwillingly, let this thought be present, - I am rising to the work of a human being. .... Have I been made for this, to lie in the bedclothes and keep myself warm? But this is more pleasant. Dost thou exist, then, to take thy pleasure, and not at all for action or exertion?"
A life of Marcus Aurelius and a short account of his philosophy is prefixed to the Meditations. A portrait from a bust in the British Museum forms the frontispiece, and a medallion on the cover is taken from a coin of the time of Aurelius.
Dottings round the Circle. By BENJAMIN ROBBINS CURTIS. Boston: James R. Osgood & Co. For sale at the University Bookstore.
MR. CURTIS'S journal is eminently what it pretends to be, - a simple account of what a man just from college noticed and experienced in a rapid tour around the world. The book is naturally valuable only to those who have never travelled; for the author kept steadily in the beaten track of tourists, and describes more his own impressions of what he saw, than the places and objects themselves. It makes, however, an interesting volume, written generally in a lively and entertaining style. The fault in the style seems to us the constant use of the present tense, which in short narratives adds life, but continued in a book of over three hundred pages produces the effect of sweetness "long drawn out."
The journey, of which this book is the journal, lasted from the first of July, 1875, to the first of June, 1876. The author started from Boston, crossed to San Francisco, thence to Japan, China, India, up the Red Sea to Cairo, from Alexandria to Italy, through France to England, and thence home. With praiseworthy judgment he devotes most of the volume to the countries less known, and but fifteen pages to Europe and its oft-described localities. We are surprised that any one could have passed so close to the shores of Greece without setting his foot upon the land. But with this exception Mr. Curtis seems to have laid out his route remarkably well.
Whoever takes up the book will read it with interest, and by those who are personally acquainted with the author it will be welcomed with joy. The manner in which the work is published is admirable: the typography, binding, etc., have been done with taste as well as skill. As a whole, the work calls only for compliments.