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defects lie on the surface and are visible to all: he was thriftless and often in debt, and he sometimes indulged too much in the pleasures of the table." He was generous to prodigality with an income often small and always precarious. He was easily overcome with wine in an age of hard drinkers, when otherwise decent folk did not hesitate to own that they were drunk last night and proposed to be drunk again to-morrow. He was a frequent transgressor, and an honest penitent; his purpose was praiseworthy, and his will unstable; the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak. In politics he was upright and outright, a citizen of public spirit, a patriot at his own grave cost. He honored women when chivalry to women was extinct; he proclaimed their virtues and graces when those about him treated them as puppets and toys. If he haunted the exchange and the coffee-house, he loved and enshrined the home. He cared for children with exceptional tenderness, and in his last days of infirmity and loneliness he found his best solace in watching and encouraging their sports. To an exacting and difficult wife, a coquettish beauty and prim housewife, somewhat frosty and uncomfortable at all times, and perennially fretted by his heedless Bohemian ways, he was a patient and adoring husband. He idolized his friends, putting himself at Addison's feet with almost too obsequious and reverential a devotion, and he accepted the cool regard of that somewhat bloodless man of letters as his overplus of recompense. He was forgiving to his enemies, forbearing to his calumniators. He was a very human sort of being no medieval saint, though not so unlike St. Peter; no ideal "Christian hero," though with a good deal in his composition of the spirit of St. John. He was one who followed far off, and lost the path sometimes, and stumbled and fell sadly and grotesquely, but still looked toward the light that lighteth every man. He did not attain his own ideal, but was well above the mark of his time.
To a student of Steele, Mr. Aitken's volumes are invaluable. To a lover of letters, hoping for a charming portrait, fitly framed, of a picturesque person, and set against a background full of color, they will be a little disappointing. He will be vexed at the lost opportunity, will wish for a kit-cat instead of a colossal canvas. He will long to puff away some" vacant chaff well-meant for grain." He will declare that a single volume, to be held in the hand and dreamed over by the fire, could
have given every vital illuminating fact, and left Steele before us in his true attitude as a delightful, faulty person, a mixture of graces and foibles incomparable; the friend of Addison, the defender of Marlborough, the generous foe of Swift; the delight of the coffee-houses; the torment of his peevish wife, the tender father of his children; the frank patriot, the victim of party, the moralist who playfully wooed his age to goodness, and the precursor of Lamb and of Hazlitt, of Thackeray and Trollope, of Washington Irving and of George William Curtis. C. A. L. RICHARDS.
THE ECONOMIC OUTLOOK.*
"The book may not be so interesting or attractive as some others, but it satisfies,' was a remark made some time since about a leading economic work. The speaker had in mind the breadth of treatment that shows not merely mastery of the subject in hand, but especially the coolness of judgment and catholicity of mind that give one confidence in an author; and, in a scientific work, this it is that satisfies, rather than brilliancy of style, originality of method, or new information. We are never at rest, never satisfied with partisanship in a scientific work, however much we may be attracted or amused by it.
"Recent Economic Changes" is a book that, in most respects, is of this satisfactory kind, and the author, too, has uncommon skill in making statistical matter interesting; but here
and there one feels a touch of the author's contempt for the fallacies of opponents-especially for the bimetallists and protectionistsing in such a work. In other respects the book that, though justifiable perhaps, is hardly pleas
is admirable, and has that breadth and fulness of treatment that does satisfy.
The business depression of the last fifteen years is an economic phenomenon worthy of careful study. It has caused a revolution in the tariff system of most of the European states; has been, perhaps, the chief cause, though an indirect one, of the spread of the doctrine of bimetallism; and has also been a cluding acts of governments, of capitalists, and chief factor in that long list of movements, inof laborers, that is commonly grouped under the head of the labor movement." Mr.
*RECENT ECONOMIC CHANGES, and their Effects on the Production and Distribution of Wealth and the Well-being of Society. By David A. Wells, LL.D., D.C.L. New York: D. Appleton & Co.
Wells's book is an attempt to explain the causes of this depression by a careful study of the facts of business. All the leading branches, in all important countries, are taken, and the development, regarding amount of products, prices, labor cost, wages, etc., considered. His conclusion is based upon the time-worn economic paradox that improvements in methods of production cause temporary distress to the producers. The old fight of the Leicestershire hosiery weavers against the introduction of knitting machinery, with their smashing of thousands of machines, had the same cause as have many of the labor revolts of to-day; but their discomfort was of comparatively short duration, and they were but a small part of the working people of England. The last decade has seen so continual an improvement in methods of production and in labor-saving machines, and that, too, in nearly all lines of industry, that the distress has been continual and world-wide. No sooner has the capitalist fairly adopted one improved machine, than it must be thrown away for a still later and better invention, which must be purchased at dear cost, if the manufacturer would not see himself eclipsed by his rivals. The laborer, supplanted by some tireless toiler of steel, has no sooner found himself a new trade than another invention casts him again adrift. The telegraph and telephone have enabled brokers without capital to mediate between the foreign producer and consumer; and the wholesale importers who, two decades ago, backed by almost boundless capital, kept on hand a stock sufficient to supply a continent, find themselves without an occupation.
This great saving in capital and labor that comes from improved processes has brought about, of course, remarkable reductions in prices, and therewith a lowering of profits. The quantities of goods sold and consumed show no diminution in the main, but rather a large increase, a fact which proves that business is not stopping, but that the depression is rather due to small profits. The capitalists suffer most, proportionally. Wages, on the whole, have steadily risen, though individuals have, of course, suffered greatly at times from lack of employment, on the introduction of new processes.
A telling argument is made against those bimetallists who ascribe the general decline in prices to an appreciation in the value of gold. Mr. Wells's opinion, however, that silver is likely soon, from natural causes, to increase in
value till it reaches its former price, is one not commonly accepted by either monometallists or bimetallists; though it might have encouraged the Secretary of the Treasury, in his late recommendation regarding silver, with the hope that thereby he might secure both silver influence" and a profit for the treasury. It is shown that the decline in prices is general in all industries affected by the later important inventions, but not in those dependent mostly on hand-labor,-e. g., hand-woven lace, gloves, cut-glass, horses, eggs, etc.; nor is manual or domestic or professional service cheaper, but rather the contrary. No reduction in price, it is claimed, can be found that may not be satisfactorily explained by causes that have sufficiently influenced the supply of the article in question, or the demand for it, without any change in the value of gold. A close examination of the prices of the staple articles of commerce seems to justify the assertion.
At the present time, probably no part of the book is more likely to be of practical value than the discussion of the tariff and bounty systems of Europe. Unfortunately, the people who most need such books are too apt to be willing to rely upon their party organ. Wells has long been known as a freetrader, and many, on this account, will be inclined to doubt the fairness of the discussion; but his facts are from authoritative sources, and his arguments are not those that are used only by freetraders. freetraders. Four or five years ago, avowed protectionists in Germany-men who had themselves advocated the tariff system of their country-had already become convinced that in certain industries their tariff was a mere tax for the benefit of a class; that longer to uphold it on these industries was to shut out the benefits of the improvements of the modern methods, and that it should be removed on those articles, even if the removal involved loss to some producers. Mr. Wells, though occasionally speaking of protectionism as irrational in principle, nevertheless in the main discusses the question from the standpoint of such protectionists, those who wish to put a tariff only where it seems likely ultimately to establish firmly some industry in the country, but who still believe in protectionism as a governmental policy. Of course he would be likely to carry his recommendations of tariff revision farther than most such men. His accounts of the sugar industry of Europe, and especially of the system of subsidies to steamship lines, prove of marked interest.
In reading the economic literature of the past few years, there is nothing that gives greater pleasure than to note the number of statistical investigators who are convincing themselves and others that the laboring men, popularly so called, i. e., the manual laborers, are advancing in position and are raising their standard of life very rapidly, probably proportionally more rapidly than any other class. Mr. Wells takes his stand now fully on this side, basing his conclusions mainly on the investigations of Atkinson and Grosvenor in this country, Giffen and Caird in England, and Guyot and Grad in France. Some of our economists have feared that these "optimists" were injuring seriously the cause of labor, and of civilization as well, by showing thus fully the progress of the working class. If people were convinced that the tendency of the times were toward such improvement, the sympathy of society for the poor in their real suffering, it has been said, would be lessened, and the laborers themselves would feel their energies sooner flag. Mr. Wells guards against the former effect by showing how real, how very severe, the suffering of the individual laborers is made by these changes in methods of production, though the laborers as a class are so much benefited in the long run. There seems to be little fear of the laborer's energy slackening, for a chief cause of his dissatisfaction is his progress, his increase in intelligence, or general information.
Incidentally, of course, in a discussion of so great range as one involving the whole trend of economic society, many of the questions of the day are touched upon, and always with Mr. Wells's well-known keenness and vigor. No more clearly-cut statement of the principles involved in the eight-hour working-day movement can be found. It would be healthful reading for the mass of our laborers. Among other suggestive and valuable topics discussed are American habits of working and spending as contrasted with those of other nations, and the real status of this country in respect to the distribution of wealth, and its comparative amount. In the latter discussion, not a few people will be surprised to learn that the per capita wealth of Great Britain is $1,245, of Holland $1,200, to some $860 in the United States.
As a whole, the book is a mine of welldigested information on the leading lines of business enterprise, as well as a most thorough discussion of the causes and character of the
industrial depression from which we seem to be just emerging. It is certainly encouraging that so able a review of the industrial situation can reach the conclusion-"That the immense material progress that these changes have entailed has been, for mankind in general, a movement upward and not downward; for the better and not for the worse; and that the epoch of time under consideration will hereafter rank in history as one that has had no parallel, but which corresponds in importance with the periods that successively succeeded the Crusades, the invention of gunpowder, the emancipation of thought through the Reformation, and the invention of the steam-engine; when the whole plane of civilization and humanity rose to a higher level, each great movement being accompanied by social disturbances of great magnitude and serious import, but which experience has proved were but temporary in their nature, and infinitesimal in their influence for evil, in comparison with the good that followed." JEREMIAH W. JENKS.
Two BOOKS CONCERNING CHAUCER.*
The problem of constructing an aqueduct that should bring the living waters of Dan Chaucer's" well of English undefiled" within the reach of every thirsty soul, has long been a fascinating one. Dryden attempted to popularize Chaucer by reproducing his stories in the metrical language of the seventeenth century; and Wordsworth, about a hundred years later, made an experiment in the same direction. Each of these attempts suffers, however, from the inevitable limitations and defects of all translations. Dryden, having too little faith in his author, could not resist the temptation to embroider and improve upon his original. Even Wordsworth, with all his simplicity and immediateness, fails, as Matthew Arnold has remarked, to impart to his versions the "divine fluidity" of Chaucer's diction and movement. There is in the father of English poetry an exquisite combination of gifts and graces which is found in none of his modern imitators or translators. Whoever would taste his delicious flavor must master his dialect.
One of the most promising of recent at
*CHAUCER'S CANTERBURY TALES, Annotated and Accented, with Illustrations of English Life in Chaucer's Time. Revised Edition, with Illustrations from the Ellesmere MS. By John Saunders. New York: Macmillan & Co.
CHAUCER: THE LEGEND OF GOOD WOMEN. Edited by the Rev. Walter W. Skeat, Litt. D. (Clarendon Press Series.) New York: Macmillan & Co.
tempts to induce readers to take this trouble is Mr. Saunders's "Canterbury Tales,"-a book which has been well-known in England for some years and which now lies before us in a revised form. The modernization of the language has been managed with skill and delicacy beyond the introduction of a uniform standard of spelling and the use of marks of accentuation, there appear to be no alterations of the text. Archaic words are explained in
In one respect the title is very misleading, implying as it does a new edition of Chaucer's great work. The following title would describe the book much better: "The Canterbury Tales retold in pleasant prose, with copious extracts from the originals, and with abundant notes and comments by J. S." In other words, the author selects such passages from the tales as seem to him the most original, and fills in the gaps himself. Some of the tales are greatly abridged or entirely suppressed. The prologue and its characters are made the text for chatty but instructive comments upon most of the phases of social life and manners alluded to by the poet. These chapters are evidently the fruit of wide and independent reading, and, extending as they do over 169 pages, constitute an important feature of the book. At the close of each of the tales the author indulges in a chapter of critical remarks, which are valuable to the general reader, and from which more special readers will be likely to cull some useful hints. Popular as his aim is, Mr. Saunders is evidently abreast of the most recent researches in Chaucer-lore; if not himself a specialist, he has carefully surveyed the results at which specialists have arrived. Without the slightest parade of erudition, the book is strewn with references to the publications of the Chaucer Society and to the investigations of Skeat, Ten Brink, Kittredge, and many others. It is to be regretted that these references have not been grouped in a convenient list, so as to give the purchaser of the book a bibliography into the bargain. The colorless reproductions of the quaint illustrations of the Ellesmere MS. add materially to the attractiveness of the book. There are some mistakes, or errors of judgment, of which but a single example can here be adduced. At page 366, the apothecary of the Pardoner's Tale is made to asseverate thus (though not in verse): "As wisely as may God save my soul." Possibly "wisely" is a misprint for Chaucer's "wisly"; if so, there wisly"; if so, there should be a foot-note for the benefit of the
modern reader. But the word is not used by the apothecary in any of the six MSS. reprinted by Mr. Furnivall. Such errors do not appear to be frequent enough to seriously impair the value of the work, which seems, on the whole, well calculated to lure some minds back to the "perpetual fountain of good-sense" where it takes its rise.
The Reverend Professor Skeat's edition of "The Legend of Good Women" is marked by all the thoroughness of research, the patient attention to details, that students of Chaucer have learned to expect from this eminent specialist. The Legend is one of the poet's most delightful works, notable in many respects, especially as exemplifying his earliest use of the so-called heroic couplet, which was henceforth to be the medium of his best and most characteristic work. More than this, we study here not merely Chaucer's first use of a metrical form previously unfamiliar to him, but also the first use in English of what is, next to blank verse, our most sonorous and our most important metre. It is not too much to say that this is the first edition which fairly represents the poet's skill in the management of his new Pegasus. A comparison of Professor Skeat's text with the best ones previously accessible. brings out clearly the incomparable superiority of the present edition. The editor's collation of all the principal MSS. has enabled him to make many emendations affecting the sense, and almost innumerable corrections in the metre. These authorized changes are so numerous as really to give a new complexion to the style and to necessitate a revision of critical judgments based upon the poet's apparently negligent management of the new metrical form.
Had Mr. Skeat given us nothing but this admirable text, he would have earned the gratitude of every student of the poet. But he gives much more than this. In the first place, he prints the earlier and the later text of the Prologue to the Legend in such a way as to make comparison easy, and the comparison is well worth making. He everywhere gives in footnotes all the important variants of the best MSS. Moreover, in an Introduction extending to 54 pages there is much interesting matter relating to the two forms of the Prologue, to the date, subject, sources, and metre of the Legend, and to the improvements in the present edition. Finally, there is a profusion of instructive notes in this editor's well-known style, and the usual glossarial and other indexes. In size
the volume is uniform with the same editor's recently published edition of Chaucer's Minor Poems (see the September DIAL), so that it is handsomer and more considerable in appearance than his other school editions.
are presumed by him, or by the Delegates of the Clarendon Press, or by both parties, to be edited for the nursery; in fact, however, they are edited for mature students, and are of great use even to the most learned Chaucerians. The value of the present edition consists, as we have seen, very largely in the fact that it gives us for the first time the results of a critical com
dents who are interested in the minutest variations of the MSS. For example, in line 1816 of the present text occurs the verb “wex.” In the foot-note are printed the following six variants, with the names of the MSS. where they severally appear: "wex, wexe, wax, wexed, wox, woxe." On the same page three entire lines, containing twenty-four words, are omitted, and are treated in the notes and glossary as if they existed not. Such is the system. Of course, the careful student is likely to be as much interested in some of these twenty-four omitted words, as in the verb "wex" which is
treated with so much consideration.
less he be the happy possessor of Mr. Furni-, vall's six-text reprint, with plenty of time to use it, he must make shift with the popular editions for such passages as offend against the "reverence due to [very small] boys." At such points Mr. Skeat grimly claps the book to, places it on a high shelf with its back to the wall, and observes with Master Chaucer: "Ye get namore of me.”
For, alas! this is also a school edition. Like its predecessors, it has been prepared for the benefit of Mr. Skeat's ideal, or rather, let us hope, imaginary schoolboy, who is such a piti-parison of all the MSS. It is edited for stuful creature in every respect save in erudition. We all know Macaulay's schoolboy, and we are sure that, despite his frequent tribulations, he is of a much robuster type. Mr. Skeat's schoolboy is so tender that he is not supposed to know that it is (or was in Chaucer's time) quite customary for husband and wife to occupy the same bed; accordingly Chaucer's innocent allusions to that social circumstance are vigilantly suppressed, and some [bracketed] false statement, duly rimed and metred, is foisted upon the student. For this metrical mendacity, virginibus puerisque, the reverend expurgator probably excuses himself by virtue of that time-honored ethical principle that one may tell lies to children. For the not indecorous phrase "and gooth with her to beddë," Mr. Skeat substitutes "[and leith his feith to wedde]," which is surely quite another matter. In the legend of Lucretia, instead of the words "blinde lust," Mr. Skeat carefully inserts "[sinful thoght]"; for "she shal my lemman be," he substitutes "[I wol again her see]." As to Tarquin's threat to slay the stable-boy and lay him in Lucretia's bed in order to give color to an accusation of adultery, Mr. Skeat simply omits it and inserts a row of dots. Apparently he has never paused from his delightful researches to consider how fearful the responsibility he is incurring in encouraging this phenomenally tender youth, ticklish of virtue, to read an author so ribald as old Chaucer is upon occasion. Does the Rev. Mr. Skeat suppose that, in these days of sixpenny books, this erudite babe will be so pitifully stupid as not to think to buy an unexpurgated copy of the author so insistently brought to his notice? Does he expect teachers to collude with him in fibbing to this "sely child" by explaining the bracketed passages as conjectural emendations? And how does he imagine that an innocent, who must not know there is such a thing as "blind lust," is to comprehend such a tale as that of the rape of Lucrece, especially when the nodus of the story is omitted?
From another point of view this prudishness is still more unfortunate. Mr. Skeat's editions
While this extreme prudishness must be emphatically condemned, yet we should not allow it to prejudice us against the solid merits of the work before us. It is to be distinctly borne in mind that this is the first edition in which it has been possible to read this famous poem with full appreciation and enjoyment. In conclusion, I cannot forbear to advert, in the briefest way, to the remarkable misuse which Professor Skeat has been making in his editions of Chaucer for the past ten years, and which he repeats here, of that strain in Tennyson's "Vision of Sin" beginning:
"Then methought I heard a hollow sound Gathering up from all the lower ground." It will be noted that these lines present, metrically considered, a kind of anacrusis; they depart from the pentameter type by the defect of a syllable in the first foot. That such lines occur, singly and sporadically, in Chaucer, Professor Skeat adduces a good deal of evidence to prove. But it is strange that he should persist in thinking Tennyson's use of this peculiar metre analogous with Chaucer's. It does