The Monthly for December opens with an article by Reginald C. Robbins,- "One of our Criminals." The author tells the story of a switchman whom drink brings to misfortune, and misfortune to the crime of manslaughter through a mistake in switching. As a whole, the story is very well written; but it has some minor faults which spoil its full effectiveness, though they do not by any means destroy the interest of the tale. It is not well to attach any great importance to a presumably careless slip, but it is amusing to hear of a dying wife "gazing forth contentedly" at her husband "as a dog looks at a bone."
The other articles of fiction in the number are "The Joyless Asphodel," by William V. Moody, and "The Pale Stranger," by Julian Palmer Welsh. In the former, the author shows the material for a very pretty and interesting story, which he fails to do full justice in the working up. "The Pale Stranger" betrays a lack of originality; for the unknown princely guest who sings a mysterious song and then disappears, leaving the fair maiden dead behind him, is hardly without parallel in fairy tale and legend.
In "Monk Lewis-An Unknown Celebrity," Lindsay T. Damon gives a study of Matthew Gregory Lewis, translator, novellist, and ballad-monger of the early part of this century. "Three Recent Essayists" is best described in the words of the author as "a gossip in personalities, suggested by their treatment of Dumas"; the personalities being those of Mr. H. E. Henley, Mr. Andrew Lang, and Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson.
Of the editorials, the most interesting is the first, in which the defense of "The Second Mrs. Tanqueray," attempted in a previous number, is, so to speak, officially undertaken. The writer, far from condemning the new play, thinks that "the production of Mr. Pinero's work by Mrs. Kendal is the reassuring promise of a hopeful future."