THE COLONEL'S DREAM. By Charles W. Chesnutt. 294 pages, $1.50, Doubleday, Page & Co. All Book Dealers.
Charles W. Chesnutt has added another book to his already neat list of productions. He has previously written "The Conjure Woman," "The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories," "Life of Frederick Douglass," "The House Behind the Cedars" and "The Marrow of Tradition."
The name of his latest book is "The Colonel's Dream," which came from the press fresh and beautiful this fall. The story is one of race conditions in the south as found by Colonel Henry French, a native white southerner who in early life came to New York City where after years a great fortune was made.
When Colonel French returns south for his health with his motherless son and heir, Philip, it was only with the expectation of remaining a few months. But finding an opportunity for vast improvement in Clarendon, and being of a charitable disposition, he begins a noble work of reformation and rejuvenation. Alas, his broad views of life clash with the narrow, prejudiced ideas of his native town people. Around the colonel's efforts to "take the light" is woven a charming story of love, romance and tragedy.
Charles W. Chesnutt has written with such vigor and earnestness as appeals to the mind of high ideals. He has told a story that will be interesting to children generations ahead. He has written with remarkable fairness bringing to light strange notions of the oppressor and hidden virtues of the oppressed. Charles W. Chesnutt knows human nature "from the cradle to the grave" and his characters are true to life in all their actions and words. In every page or two he injects bits of fine philosophy on the race situation in America and the dullest reader will ask the question, "Does he not reason well?"
Charles W. Chesnutt, the leading author among colored people, is misunderstood by a great many people and consequently unjustly criticised. The criticism is for the most part local and due to the fact that Mr. Chesnutt is not a "mixer," in the political sense of that term. He is seldom seen at any gatherings among colored people and, for this reason, there is an impression that he is an enemy of the race and not a friend. Nothing could be farther from right. The race has no truer friend or better informed member on current conditions than Charles W. Chesnutt. Whether he is a "mixer" or not, is none of our business. Every man has a right to choose his company. Mr. Chesnutt is a national man and not a local man; our esteem for him should be based on his national faithfulness to our cause. Through all his books, essays and addresses, as a member of the "Committee of Twelve," and in divers quiet ways, Mr. Chesnutt is loyal to the race. He works while others sleep and talk. Above all Mr. Chesnutt is a real man; he has brains, a great heart and ministering hands. His fame, as is often the case, does not exceed his true worth and ability; on the other hand, his modesty limits his fame. His books should be in every home.