An excerpt of a review from "The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, " Volume 76: A NEW book of Miss Repplier's is a little holiday for readers who agree with her, who like her humour and her quietly defiant loyalty to what is good, honourable, and obsolete. To other students Essays in Idleness must be provoking. It is ...
An excerpt of a review from "The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, " Volume 76: A NEW book of Miss Repplier's is a little holiday for readers who agree with her, who like her humour and her quietly defiant loyalty to what is good, honourable, and obsolete. To other students Essays in Idleness must be provoking. It is mainly of literature, and of life as viewed in books, that the writes; she seems to be without ambition of shining in creative work; she tells no story, she sings no song, and probably she knows her own limitations. She is an essayist, and is content with a corner of the field where Lamb, and Hazlitt, and Emerson chiefly worked. We say Emerson of set purpose, because Miss Repplier, who is so well read, so familiar with Sainte-Beuve and the Guerins, with Sir Thomas Browne and Guibert de Nogent, with Scott and Shelley, Schopenhauer, Bunyan, Mme. de Sevigne, Walpole, Johnson-Miss Repplier, who cites so much and so freshly, never, or "hardly ever," cites Emerson, and not often any American author. This has provoked the patriotism of some among her country's critics, and perhaps they have hardened her heart, have made her say to her soul "We can do without Emerson and company." In a pleasant essay on "The Children's Poets" she is not so hardened as to omit Longfellow-one of the dearest poets of children. But why is there no kinder word for Poe? It is easy to understand patriotic indignation; for Miss Repplier, not citing her native living essayists, is full of bits from living English authors. They are, of course, justly puffed up, like Pet Marjorie, "with haughty pride," but they may doubt their right to see their names, like Pendennis, "among the swells"-and such swells! To be talked of with Lamb and Sir Thomas Browne may be felt by Messrs. A, B, and C as an almost invidious distinction. But we have little other fault to find with Miss Repplier's essays; she does say "back of" once where "behind" seems more classical. One essay, on "The Praises of War," provoked some virtuous remonstrance. But Miss Repplier makes it perfectly plain that it is not in pain and ruin and death that her fancy takes pleasure: Heaven forbid! but that, accepting war as a fact, she prefers to dwell on the side of courage, splendour, "the joy of battle," on Anstruther, the swift-footed boy planting the colours of the Royal Welsh on the redoubt, and "standing there one happy moment before he was shot dead." Well, it was a moment worth a long life, better than "an age without a name"; we cannot but think so, even if by no means so sure that we would have made the choice of Achilles. The essayist takes what is good in war, courage, self-sacrifice; and as wars have been, and will be, who can blame her? Not even they who, with Falkland, "ingeminate Peace, Peace!" Of course, the people who sing the warlike songs, and who like to read them, are by no means, as a rule, the people who want to fight. "Donald M'Donald" set the fighting spirit in a blaze. Hogg once, from a wood near a road, heard a recruit singing it as he walked alone, and saw him waving his bonnet. But the Shepherd was not John of Gaunt, that is quite notorious. Even if there were universal peace, we must all die, and may win some strength from the deeds of men who died under shield. The cat is a peaceful creature (by day), and from war's alarms Miss Repplier turns to the praise of cats; in "Agrippina." There can hardly be a better essay on cats. Miss Repplier appreciates the animal, knows all that has been written about it, and cites the best. She is a devout Scotist, but omits Scott's remark that) a liking for cats was, in him, the first sign of old age. He was too fond of terriers. Even Dr. John Brown, demoralized by dandies, speaks inconsiderately about the dandy's deadly foe...."
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