In his second volume of collected stories, "The Wife of His Youth, and Other Stories of the Color Line," Mr. Charles W. Chesnutt strikes a deeper and stronger note than in "The Conjure Woman." The lighter and more amusing side of negro character was shown in the earlier volume. The darker and sterner features of negro life, and more particularly the perplexing problems involved when the color line is so faint as to be scarcely discernible but is always liable to discovery, are presented in the collection of nine stories.
When "The Wife of His Youth" appeared in the Atlantic Monthly the writer of this notice called attention to it as one of the most noteworthy short stories of the time and that opinion was corroborated by the judgment of the most competent critics all over the country. Re-reading the story has deepened the impression then formed. But the other tales in the volume are well worthy companionship with that striking sketch. The earnestness, the skillful management of the story to keep the reader in suspense, the dramatic denouement, the clear simplicity of style, are characteristic of all the nine stories, whether the scene is laid in the south or in "Groveland," or its pretty neighboring city of "Patesville," both of which places will be readily recognized under the slightly disguised names.
"The Wife of His Youth" has four illustrations by Clyde O. De Land, and can be strongly recommended as a holiday present that is certain to be appreciated.–Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston: The Burrows Brothers Co.+++
Another book by Mr. Charles W. Chesnutt is a volume in "The Beacon Biographies of Eminent Americans," in which Mr. Chesnutt tells the story of the life of Frederick Douglass." In introducing it the author says that the more he has studied the records of the life of Douglass the more it has appealed to his imagination and his heart. Belonging to a later generation than this champion of his oppressed race he was only privileged to see the man and hear the orator after his life work was substantially completed, but often enough then to appreciate something of the strength and eloquence by which he impressed his contemporaries.
Mr Chesnutt, in noticing the fact that Douglass spent two years as minister resident and consul general to the republic of Hayti, says he has heard him speak with enthusiasm of the substantial progress made by the Haytians in the arts of government and civilization, and with indignation of what he considered slanders against the island, due to ignorance or prejudice. When it was suggested to Douglass that the Haytians were given to revolution as a mode of expressing disapproval of their rulers, he replied that a four years' rebellion had been fought and two presidents assassinated in the United States during a comparatively peaceful political period in Hayti.
The little volume has a striking photogravure portrait of Frederick Douglass from one of the last photographs taken of him and the one most highly thought of by his family.–Small, Maynard & Co., Boston: The Burrows Brothers Co.