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KWANNON.

(The Goddess of Mercy and Motherhood in Japan.)

Mine are all delicate and tender things,—
Soft twilight-colored moths that cannot bear
The day's abashless stare,-

The glow-worm shining softly for her mate
Who has no lamp, even as she has no wings,-
The drones that toward autumn meet their fate,
Fallen from their high estate

Because the workers and their queen have stings
And not one memory of the good days done
When the old queen was young, and 'neath the sun
Frolicked and loved and wedded those to-day
The honeymakers leave their toil to slay.

Mine are the rosy-footed doves that mourn
For ever in the tree-tops, night and noon
Like lovers left forlorn,

Or rose-bough cheated of its rose in June.
Mine are the temple-pigeons, light of mood
That in the craziest nests

Rear up an iris-breasted clamorous brood.
Mine are the maple-trees whose scarlet crests
Outbloom the red cranes and the redder sun
When frosts have just begun.

Mine is the field-mouse that a shadow scares
Whose nest is slung between two ears of corn,—
The flower that folds up if a finger dares
Approach her golden petals,-dew at morn,
The poppy reapers mow,—

All frail and lovely things the stars below.

Shadows and clouds are mine, dewdrops and rain,
Dumb creatures that we load with work and pain
And pay with swinging lash and angry tongue:
Mine are the jests unsaid, the songs unsung:
Mine are the groaning gates of death and birth
That to and fro reluctantly are swung;

And mine are all the weakest things on earth:
Pale buds on the wistaria-branches hung,—

The dancing monkey, chained to make you mirth,—

The geisha-girl whose painted lips must smile

Although her eyes would gladly weep awhile,-
The boat, that drowned her crew, drawn high and dry

Ashore to rot away and slowly die,

The scorched land cracking 'neath a brazen sky
That once held many rice-fields in its girth
And never dreamed of dearth.

Last, dearest, fairest of all feeble things,
Mine are all children, borne with pain, to live
And love and labor, and return again

Unto the earth whence they arose to flower
The blossoms of a life-time, as the plum

And the imperial chrysanthemum

In their own season come,

The blossoms of a day and of an hour.

I make the light soft to the children's eyes
With veils of rain drawn tenderly across
The flaming sun that hunts adown the skies
The stars no man at height of day can see,
So keen a hunter he.

After the rain, lest baby eyes should weep
Because the clouds so close a cover keep
Before the bright face of the imperious sun,
I build a rainbow east and west to show
How laughter follows on the track of tears
All down the years,

How beauty shall be builded out of fears,
Hope out of doubt be spun.

The rainbow of five colors arched in one

My symbol is. Its irises I wear

For garland in my hair;

And when the children, grown and growing old,

My face no more behold,

A rainbow of five colors in the sky

Tells them that, though all passes, here am I.

Kwannon the Merciful, with arms that strain To clasp my children to my arms again. Macmillan's Magazine.

TWELVE MONTHS' FICTION.

In sifting and assessing the mass of fiction which has appeared since our last special Fiction Number, twelve months ago, we have decided this year to abolish that literary compromise which usually influences the annual marshalling of the novelists' productions, and frankly to divide the year's production into two parts. It would be idle to deny that a novel by, say, Mr. Anthony Hope or Mr. H. S. Merriman is a book of the year. It must appear in any catalogue of the year, not only because the approval of a large majority of educated persons has given it importance, but also because it is a thoroughly capable, careful, and perhaps brilliant piece of invention and of writing. On the other hand, it would be equally idle to assert that "The Velvet Glove" or "The Intrusions of Peggy" has any real vital connection with the art of fiction, that it "counts," or that it would pass muster with, or even interest, the expert opinion of a foreign country. Every competent judge knows that it would not, and is perfectly assured that in a few years it is destined to oblivion and will be as though it had never been. Such books as those we have named, despite their skilful and honest excellence, partake of the nature of a commercial article. Consciously or unconsciously they meet a market, they are according to a pattern. They lack the distinction of mind, the seriousness, the truthfulness, and above all the fundamental emotional force which every true work of art must possess. The majority, even the educated majority, cannot perceive these shortcomings, or if they perceive them they cannot estimate their significance.

We have selected six popular novels of the year as being the best of their

sort. We use the term popular in a moderate and decent sense-a sense which does not include the too-assertive vogue of books like "Temporal Power," by Marie Corelli; "Fuel of Fire," by Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler; and the "Hound of the Baskervilles," by Sir Conan Doyle. Such works as these have no artistic recommendation of any kind: they appeal to the possibly harmless instincts of the populace in the same way as a halfpenny paper does, and it would be ridiculous to pit them against the well-bred vigor and the elaborate restrained craftsmanship of writers of the calibre of Mr. Anthony Hope or Sir Walter Besant. Our selected Popular Six are as follows:

"The Intrusions of Peggy." By Anthony Hope.

"The Velvet Glove." By H. S. Merriman.

"Scarlet and Hyssop." By E. F. Benson.

"The Conquest of Charlotte." By D. S. Meldrum.

"No Other Way." By Sir Walter Besant.

"The Right of Way." By Sir Gilbert Parker.

Of these it is not necessary to say much. We have endeavored to place them in order of merit. There can be no doubt that Sir Gilbert Parker's was the least satisfactory of the lot; indeed Sir Gilbert's talent has already lost much of its first fineness, and if "The Right of Way" had sold two million instead of a mere two hundred thousand, the fact would remain that its author cannot much longer, if his present retrogression continues, be enumerated with the serious craftsmen. Mr. Meldrum's book deserves special mention; it delighted the readers of "Blackwood," no mean achieve

ment, and it has decidedly opened a budding reputation.

Ranking after this half dozen, we must specify eight other popular and praiseworthy novels, all of which, we opine, well merited the attention which they received. They are named in alphabetical order:

"The Making of a Marchioness." By F. H. Burnett.

"Adventures of M. d'Haricot." By J. S. Clouston.

"In the Fog." By R. H. Davis. "If I were King." By Justin H. McCarthy.

"Drift." By L. T. Meade.

"The Vultures." By H. S. Merriman. "The Credit of the County." By W. E. Norris.

"A Mystery of the Sea." By Bram Stoker.

Mr. W. E. Norris continues to produce excellent work of its kind, work which will not offend the nicest palate, though of course it may be accused of insipidity. Mr. Bram Stoker, in "A Mystery of the Sea," did not repeat the extraordinary success of that really clever "shocker," "Dracula"; but he produced what may be called "a good story." Mr. Richard Harding Davis, in "In the Fog," showed Sir Conan Doyle and Messrs. Pemberton, Marsh, Le Queux, Donovan, and Co., how well a detective story can be done by a capable hand. "The Adventures of M. d'Haricot" offers an example of a rather obvious, popular facetiousness just kept within the bounds of literary respectability. The book was neither original in plan nor very ingenious in execution, but it had a certain tact. Mrs. Meade's "drift," which we understand to be the result of an attempt on the part of that popular author to get for once out of the groove and write to satisfy herself, was a story which wins respect for its honesty of purpose, but which is far more interesting as a pyschological key to the brain-processes

of Mrs. Meade than as a serious novel. Of the innumerable company of Adeline Sergeants, S. R. Crocketts, Max Pembertons, B. M. Crockers, and other firm pillars of the circulating library, we need not discourse. We have noticed, however, that while Miss Adeline Sergeant's amazing fecundity seems to increase, Mr. S. R. Crockett's production shows a laudable tendency towards moderation.

We come now to the Artistic Novels of the year, those which do "count," and those which could not fail to interest any instructed foreign student of our literature. They are in alphabetical order, according to the authors' names:

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In making this selection, we have entirely ignored the question of popularity or even of reputation. We have been guided solely by our artistic judgment. We put forward these nine novels as in our view the best of the year-in technique, in emotional power, and in the achievement of beauty. That the average opinion will disagree, will possibly be startled, we do not doubt, for it is a commonplace of literary history that the average opinion, though seldom contemptible, is never exactly right until it has had about

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fifty years in which to ripen and correct itself. All these nine novels are artistically notable, and some, imagine, deserve a more distinguished adjective. Mr. Murray Gilchrist's "The Labyrinth" was a fine example of the true romantic spirit working free from the trammels of any realism; its sensuous and virile charm, and the strange audacity of its close will be remembered. In "Love and the Soul Hunters" Mrs. Craigie furnished another instance, perhaps more ambitious and elaborate than any previous one, of her rare power of combining sensuous and intellectual subtlety, and again combining these with a view of life at once comprehensive and feminine. The "Wings of the Dove" was a great achievement of virtuosity, but we shall not attempt to minimize the essential artistic arrogance of Mr. James's attitude towards his readers. We incline to the view that "The First Men in the Moon," in its fusion of picturesque imagination, scientific truth, and philosophic criticism of this planet, must rank as Mr. Wells's best novel. It has been very well received in France, and we cannot forbear to comment on the irregular and piquant fact that a narrative which satisfied the readers of "The Strand Magazine” should happen to be good art.

A comparatively large number of second-class serious or genuinely humorous novels deserve particular reference, but we must be content with merely naming a round score, roughly in order of artistic importance:

"The River." By Eden Phillpotts. "The Sea-Lady." By H. G. Wells. "Sordon." By Benjamin Swift. "The Westcotes." By "Q." "The Conqueror." By Gertrude Atherton.

"The Way of Escape." By Graham Travers.

"Woodside Farm." By Mrs. W. K. Clifford.

"The Mating of a Dove." By Mary I. Mann. By

"The Founding of Fortunes." Jane Barlow.

"The Keys of the House." By AIgernon Gissing.

"Donna Diana." By Richard Bagot. "The Lady Paramount." By Henry Harland.

"At Sunwich Port." By W. W. Jacobs.

"Patricia of the Hills." By C. K. Burrow.

"The Four Feathers." By A. E. W. Mason.

"Felix." By Robert Hichens. "Luke Delmege." By Father Sheehan.

"The Happenings of Jill." By "Iota." "Sons of the Sword." By Margaret L. Woods.

"Paul Kelver." By Jerome K. Je

rome.

This list of volumes of short stories is rather notable:

"Natives of Milton." By R. Murray Gilchrist.

"The Lady of the Barge." By W. W. Jacobs.

"The White Wolf." By "Q."

"Just So Stories." By Rudyard Kipling.

"A Book of Stories." By G. S. Street. "The Watcher by the Threshold." By John Buchan.

"Joe Wilson." By Henry Lawson. "The Place of Dreams." By William Barry.

"The Handsome Quaker." By Katherine Tynan.

"On the Old Trail." By Bret Harte.

Of new books by new authors, only two can be said to arouse interest:

"Wistons."

By Miles Amber. "The Sheepstealers." By Violet Jacobs.

"Wistons" was unequal. The beginning showed much promise.

Lastly, we give a list of the powerful translations of the year. It is re

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