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The fifth number of the Monthly maintains the standard of literary excellence reached in the preceding numbers. Yet one is sorely tempted to say with Jeffrey "This will never do." While the two leading articles, those by Mr. Humphreys and Mr. Fullerton, are admirable in their tone of life and good health, the remaining papers force upon the reader an uncomfortable sense of his own and the general wretchedness.
The sketch of Charles Russell Lowell is a work of great merit, and cannot fail to thrill all who read it with its tale of a noble life bravely done. "Sorrow and Stillness," by Mr. Sanborn, distinctly lacks melody, and contains several unmusical halting lines. The feeling is strong and the expression good. "A Second Empedocles," by Mr. Sanford, is, to say the least, a strange effort. It is incongruous and decidedly lacks force. The Latin quotations mar the form and weaken the passion aimed at by the writer. One does not quote a Latin translation of Homer in the death agony; and for a Stoic to die with Horace on his lips provokes undesirable reasoning.
"Rigoletto," by Mr. Houghton, is a characteristic ballad. Mention has already been made of Mr. Hougnton's style. Many of his lines are very striking. But there is a peculiar introspective tendency here discernable which is calculated to inspire an interest in the writer's philosophy. A critical essay by Mr. Fullerton, on Principal Shairp, is a uniform, well digested, though somewhat rambling, review of his life and thoughts. While the writer, perhaps, ranks the author of "Kilmahoe" too high among his contemporaries, the paper on the whole is calm and gives evidence of interest.
Mr. Santayana in a sonnet calls for a higher love, and embodies the Socratic eros. The expression is good and the lines are often graceful.
Mr. Baker in a short narrative, gives evidence of weakness in handling, but on the whole tells the story of the compact between Robespierre and Barere clearly and with some enthusiasm. The editorials contain an exegisis of pessimism, which has a slightly familiar sound. Mr. Clymer contributes a concise review of Dr. Gummere's "Handbook."
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