The article which occupies the seat of honor in the November Monthly (the prose of which is unusually good) is by Paul R. Frothingham on "The Place of Mysticism in Modern Life." Its author considers Mysticism as that philosophy which enables man to seek through introspection to commune with the Eternal Spirit and receive divine illumination. After giving a short account of what the Mysticism has accomplished in past ages, he explains very lucidly the causes which have lessened its power at the present day and makes an earnest plea for this philosophy of the inner, the spirit world. "For it is the Mystics," he says, "who tell us of our deeper, truer, diviner natures, and reveal to us the inner springs of life which are the sources of our power. They lift us out of the whirl of material madness and fix our thoughts and hopes on the things that are above."
"The Reaction Against Ibsen" is a thoughtful essay on Ibsen's position at the present day - the attacks which have been made on certain characteristic features of his writings - and the justice of such onslaughts. After citing several passages from some of Ibsen's best-known plays to illustrate certain lines of thought with which some writers have lately picked flaws, the author states as his personal conviction that the hostile attitude of society towards Ibsen is only an illustration of that principle which is as old as life - the principle of self preservation, and further that "the cry that Ibsen is treading upon dangerous ground, the old cry of pitch and defilement, of forbidden subject, gives expression to that fear of unpleasant truth, that effeminate shrinking from all that is dark and evil which is characteristic of buoyant optimism."
"The Revels of Mon Marcel" is one of the most powerful stories which has appeared in the Monthly for some time. Its author, Austin Smith, has slipped out of the beaten tracks and given us an original and strongly-executed sketch of a man who is entirely removed from the common-place, for Dufont, the hero of the tale, has an individuality so strongly marked that he rouses one's interest at the opening of the story. He was a man who "at times looked like a devil that had been chained up by society and taught to walk in the procession, but awkwardly albeit, like a half-trained bear. The interesting question was how long would the chain hold?" The chain did not hold long, and in telling why it did not, and in his description of the development of Dufont's character and of the dramatic scenes in the old chateau of Monmarcel, Mr. Smith exhibits much power.
"Social Stages" are two sketches, bright, natural and vivacious. Two pictures are given us, - of the enthusiastic, ideal-loving, lero-worshipping youth of twenty-one, and his ideas upon things in general - and of this same being become a man of twenty-five, cynical, fearlessly and honestly mundane and selfish, in theory and in practice, - who prefers his own real advantage to deference to a sentimentality that seems to him absurd.
The poetry of the number seems to us to be below the Monthly's usual standard. Of the two poems, "The Answer" is the better. But it is decidedly inferior to what its author has done before and certainly cannot stand comparison with its author's most lately published poem, "Dolarosa," - although the diction is simple and natural and certain lines are very good. "The Builder - Science" has the double fault of extreme vagueness of thought and inaptitude of diction.
One of the most interesting things in the number is a fragment entitled "The Athletic Question Twenty five Years Ago," in which is printed a characteristic letter, or rather note, by James Russell Lowell on a base ball topic.
The editorial deals with the inequalities of the course system, and besides the usual "Month," there are two book reviews by Mr. Lovett and Mr. Duffield.