Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 4
Zealandia, in its twelfth issue, bids its readers a last Good-night. « The Mark of Cain » is completed; the previous chapter having really forestalled the close. The story has been ingeniously wrought out, and the interest well sustained; but the histrionic episode at the end is somewhat strained and improbable. The principal article this month is a long rhapsody on « Christ as a Social Reformer. » The author maintains that the early Christians suffered persecution and martyrdom, not on religious but political grounds, in order to bring about a social revolution and establish liberty and equality—a model democracy. The passages referring to a spiritual kingdom he dismisses as spurious. He admits that that the Gospels do not as they stand warrant his conclusions, and falls back on the suppositious protevangelium, reminding us that Professor Owen can restore a skeleton from a single bone. With characteristic modesty, he assumes the position of the professor. He more resembles Harte's « Brown of Calavaras, » who from the skeleton of a mule « reconstructed » a monster unknown to science. The writer's view of the mission of the Christ is not new. It seems to have been held in A.D. 33 by one of whom we read in Luke, xii, 13; and cannot but commend itself to those who take the lowest possible view of a man's life—that it « consisteth in the abundance of the things that he possesseth. » —Neither title nor index are supplied: in fact, the editor appears to have lost all heart in his work. The wrapper still sets forth that « everything appearing in these pages is written specially for Zealandia, » but the greater part of the contents is selected from English and American magazines. The editor says: « We have clearly shown the lines upon which a successful magazine must be run in New Zealand. » He has done so by practically illustrating all the roads to failure; and has aroused a prejudice against local literature which will seriously injure any future venture for some time to come.
The literary « crank » is ever with us. Mr J. W. Cross, in the Nineteenth Century, discourses on « Dante and the New Reformation, » and claims that the Florentine poet— « the first Christian prophet who has given us a revelation without the miraculous intervention » —initiated by his great poem a new era which the sacred Scriptures had been powerless to bring about. When the world has learned to place the Comedy and the Bible on exactly the same footing, the true millennium will have come! Hero-worship has much to answer for. Whatever influence the commanding genius of Dante may have had upon the Western Church, it has not affected, even to an infinitesimal degree, the great and widening current of Protestant thought. Milton did so to some extent. Unorthodox as Dante himself, he succeeded to a remarkable degree in paganising the whole dogmatic theology of the last century, and the churches have not yet quite shaken off the incubus of Paradise Lost. Many good people to this day would be shocked to learn that there is not a word in the Scriptures about the episode of the fall of Satan and his angels, and that for full particulars they should read the Book of Mormon. But while Milton's influence is still felt in speculative theology, his frigid genius never touched the heart of the religious world. The influence of the two transcendent spirits, Dante and Milton, on the religious life of the world, and not the English-speaking world alone, is insignificant compared with that of one humble dreamer—the Tinker of Bedford.
The Speaker records the death, at the age of 86, of « the most popular novelist, » Mr J. F. Smith. Thirty years ago he had a thousand readers where Dickens had ten. He was the great originator of the « To-be-continued » novel for the million, in papers, such as the London Journal. « On the side of Virtue—of Virtue as a rule, picturesquely poor—was the pen of Mr Smith ever enlisted. The Speaker describes him as a thorough Bohemian, utterly careless of fame. Astounding situations and adventures flowed from his pen as freely as the ink itself, and one or two foremost writers of our own day have not scrupled to avail themselves of the results of his genius. He would call at the office when his salary fell due—never before; and would glance over his last chapter, « write like a madman for two or three hours, » when a fresh instalment of his thrilling story would be handed uncorrected to the boy in waiting. Then he would vanish for a week into some haunts where he would be safe from the intrusion of duns.
« A History of Printing in New York » is announced, in two quarto volumes. The collection of material for the work was begun thirty years age, and it is expected that the book will be two years in the press. Mr W. W. Pascoe, librarian of the Typothetæ, is the author, and from all accounts, it will be an exceedingly interesting and valuable addition to the literature of the Craft.
The first edition of Stanley's new book will be published simultaneously in fifteen languages, and will reach in the aggregate, the extraordinary number of five millions. An English telegram states that stolen proof-sheets were hawked round to the various publishers, who all refused to buy.
Mr Whittier has written to a correspondent: « I have reached a time of life when literary notoriety is of small consequence; but I shall be glad to feel that I have not altogether written in vain; that my words for freedom, temperance, charity, faith in the Divine goodness, love of nature and of home and country, are welcomed and approved. »
A sharp Yankee trick is exposed in the American trade papers. A Webster's Unabridged Dictionary has been produced at the retail price of $3.50, but is even to be had as low as $1. It is found on examination to be a reprint, by a photo-reproductive process, of the long obsolete edition of 1847.