THE YELLOW BOOK

The Yellow Book. Vol. VI. London : Lane.

The Yellow Book continues to sober down. It is impossible
to take objection to any of the contributions on the point of
colour. A dull gray is the prevailing tone. Mr. Henry James
has the first place with a subtly written story called ‘The Next
Time.’ There is not much story in it, but so skillfully is it
written that you do not feel the want of it until you have finished
and set yourself to remember what it was all about. Then you
recall a young man of genius who wrote the most exquisitely
original books which everybody admitted to be original and
suggestive, but which few people read and nobody bought.
He got some very fair chances to make an income and so
win his bride, whose mother forbade her to be his until
he could show proof of an assured income which
should enable her to live with her daughter. But his
fatal tendency to be always writing above people’s heads
robbed him of these chances. He was to write in the
first place a few columns per week of ‘chatty’ paragraphs.
He did his level best, but the editor could not be persuaded
that they were ‘chatty’ enough. Then he was made editor of
a new paper which was to go in for literature, and yet be
popular. He tried to do the popular work himself, and got his
friends to write the literature. The proprietor was hindered by
his contract from interfering till a year was gone. Then he
interfered to the extent of giving his editor the sack. The
editor by this time was married and had his mother-in-law
staying with him. Thereafter he took to writing books in
which he toiled to sink as low as possible and hit the
popular taste. But he could no more sink than a per-
fectly sound buoy can stay below the waves. Yet he
never despaired, but always hoped that the ‘next time’ he would
succeed. Then, overworked and disappointed, with a permanent
mother-in-law, and an increasing family he sank, not to the
popular taste, but into his grave. This is all the material on
which Mr. James has to work, but he works it to perfection.
Next to Mr. Henry James, but a long way behind, comes Mr.
Henry Harland with ‘Tirala-tirala...’ Mr. Harland has a
pretty style and he manages to supply ys with a great deal of
miscellaneous information aout the things which interested
him ‘when,’ in his own words, ‘I was a child.’ Then we have
Mr. Kenneth Grahame, who is always charming, writing on the
‘long odds’ which youth asks against itself and its heroes.
George Egerton’s story, ‘The Captain’s Book,’ is not particularly
well written, nor is it very interesting. It makes bold to be
pathetic and fails. ‘A New Poster,’ by Evelyn Sharp, is rather
a silly story, but not nearly so silly as it is long. G.S. Street
writes ‘An Appreciation of Ouida,’ which will hardly please
her, and fails to please us because it is so uninteresting.
It is difficult to imagine Mr. Street being uninteresting, and
the reason why he is so in this instance seems to be because
he does not try to be interesting, or found that he had tackled
the wrong subject in the wrong spirit, but must needs make
an end once he had begun it. H.B. Marriott Watson’s story,
‘The Dead Wall,’ is very unpleasant reading, but, as is usual
with this writer, so powerful as to be fascinating. Mr. Watson
may not always convince you, but he always leaves a strong
impression. ‘The Crimson Weaver,’ by R. Murray Gilchrist,
is weird, but vague, and is not up to his best. As a writer Mr.
Gilchrist always suggests to us that gifted craftsman in a sister
art, Sir E. Burne Jones. There are colour and line to perfection
often, but an aloofness from things human that is a hindrance
to the right enjoyment which such skill should produce. Finally
we will refer to Mr. Le Gallienne’s four prose fancies, and we
could find it in our hearts to be very angry with Mr. Le
Gallienne for writing such stuff. There isn’t an interesting idea
in one of these prose fancies, and the paddin, of which there
is a great deal, is of the poorest. Who can be expected to
go on reading a ‘Prose Fancy’ which begins thus :
‘It is, I am given to understand, a familiar axiom of mathe-
matics that no number of ciphers placed in front of significant
units, or tens or hundreds of units, adds in the smallest degree
to the numerical value of these units.’ Mr. Le Gallienne may
pose as Mr. Barlow, if he choose, but we certainly object to
oblige him by assuming the róle of Sandford and Merton. The
verse scattered through the paper is mediocre at best, nor do
Mr. Theodore Watts’s ‘Two Letters to a Friend’ remove this
reproach from the sixth volume of the Yellow Book. If it were
not for Mr. Henry James we should not see any reason why
the Yellow Book should have reached its sixth volume. As it is
we can hardly congratulate it upon its advance.



 
 
 
 


 MLA citation:
 
 Rev. of The Yellow Book 5. The National Observer 10 August 1895. The Yellow Nineties Online. Ed. Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson University, 2011. Web. [Date of access]. http://1890s.ca/HTML.aspx?s=review_v6_national_observer_july_1895.html