The Wife of his Youth
Here are nine "stories of the color line," as Mr. Charles W. Chesnutt designates his sketches, which have already attracted much favorable attention as they have appeared in the magazines. Heretofore we have been dependant for any knowledge we might desire to obtain of the negro in the South, upon such descriptions as we have had from the pens of Mrs. Stowe, Thomas Nelson Page, Hopkins Smith, Joel Chandler Harris, or some other writer of the Caucasian race. But with the advent in literature of Booker Washington. Paul Laurence Dunbar and Chesnutt, all educated negroes, the romantic and dramatic darkey, so long familiar to us, is to be displayed by the real flesh and blood negro, with his own thoughts and aspirations, his joys and sorrows, as he is known to those of his own race. As may be expected there is little low comedy in Mr. Chesnutt's stories; they are written in a very serious vein, as by one who keenly feels the injustice to which his race has been so lon subjected. his arraignment of the white man, however, is by implication rather than by positive attack, as in the touching little sketch, "The bouquet," where faithful little Sophy, anxious to place a memorial bunch of simple field flowers on the grave of her white teacher, Miss Myrover, is confronted at the cemetary by the sign: "This cemetery is for white people only. Others please keep out." So Sophy stays out until the funeral cortage passes in to the grave and then, through a hole in the fence, manages to attract the attention of her teacher's dog, Prince, who, having been taught to fetch and carry, is induced to carry the floral offering to his mistress's grave and lay it with the other flowers. Other of the stories are of a sterner character as "The Sheriff's Children" and The Passing of Grandison," which are full of pathos. Mr. Chesnutt has opened out to us a new field in literature, which he is cultivating with an earnestness and sincerity that cannot fail to appeal to the cultivated reader. Houghton, Mifflin & Company. Cloth, $1.50. For sale by C. W. Sever & Company.
Rev. of The Wife of His Youth "Among the Books." The Cambridge Tribune. December 23, 1899: 2.