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From National Observer: “Yellow and Green”

But for a rather dull and sordid tale of improbable intrigue
by K. Douglas King, a story by Oswald Sickert that savours of
apprenticeship, and a note in singularly poor taste by ‘The
Yellow Dwarf,’ the ‘literature’ of this quarter’s number of The
Yellow Book
attains a high level of excellence. The ‘Dwarf’
distinguishes between the Obvious, beloved of the Average
Man, and the Subtly Elusive, only to be appreciated by
superior people. The Dog and the Cat stand respectively for
the concrete images of these abstractions; and literature may
be rudely divded into Dog- and Cat-literature. Mr. Hall
Caine is the ‘ponderous, slow-strutting Mastiff,’ Miss Corelli
the ‘white Poodle, with pink eyes,’ Mr. J. K. Jerome the
‘grinning Dog of the Public House,’ Mr. George Moore the
‘laborious Dachshund,’ Mr. Crockett the ‘sanctimonious Collie,’
and so on. Under the head of Cat-literature, the Subtly
Elusive, understanded of the superior, comes the work of those
who write for the publisher of The Yellow Book. Mr George
Meredith, therefore, is not in the list. Mrs. Maynell, Mr.
Henry James, and Mr. Kenneth Grahame are far too good
to be much hurt by this ludicously patent piece of log-rolling.
There is but one apparently exception, on Subtly Elusive pro-
duction which some other happy firm has published. It is a
new book by a pseudonymous author; but the name of neither
requires to be mentioned here, and the ‘Yellow Dwarf’ has done
all that is necessary by way of advertisement. He is so
enamoured of the Cat-like character of the work, and is so
curious about the actual name or names of the author or
authors, that it is only reasonable to suppose that he pro-
duced it himself. One sincerely hopes that this ill-mannered
buffoonery with which The Yellow Book opens will not affect
the popularity of a really creditable issue.

‘The Invisible Prince’ of Henry Harland is quite the best of
many diverting stories, for all the too exceeding cleverness of
some of its dialogue. As we have been drawn to the subject of
cats, it may be excuseable to call Mr. Harland’s attention to a
trivial error he makes in reference to this elusive quardruped.
‘You’re playing with me,’ says the Prince to the lady, ‘like the
cat in the adage. It’s too cruel.’ Surely the particular ‘poor
cat i’ th’ adage’ was not trifling with a mouse, but wanted
to get at the fish and feared to wet her paws, thus ‘letting
“I dare not” wait upon “I would.”‘ Perhaps however, Mr.
Harland knows another cat in another adage. If Ménie Muriel
Dowie‘s clever ‘Idyll’ of the Bonnet-shop reveals a closer
acquaintance with millinery than with men it only shows how
profound is her knowledge of millinery; for the maculine
habits of this hardy authoress and horsewoman have long been
known even outside the Carpathians. ‘La Goya, a Passion of
the Peruvian Desert,’ by Samuel Mathewson Scott, is a slight
story overdone to the length of sixty-five pages, with a very
little passion and a vast deal of desert. But the picture given
of the happy, casual Cholos – the Indian of the Peruvian coast —
with their inevitable fandangoes and fiestas, is vivid in detail
and delightful in colouring. Vernon Lee’s fairy tale of ‘Prince
Alberic and the Snake Lady’ has, for such vieux jeu, a certain
freshness and humour: but it is too long, and the scenic
descriptions, though they have every charm of refined beauty,
tend to clog the movement of what story there is. Is it too
much to ask, by the way, why Vernon Lee makes her snails
and toads neuter, but her carp masculine? Ella D’Arcy
contributes two careful little sketches of a death-mask and a
deserted villa, but they are not ‘Two Stories,’ as she calls
them. In ‘Sub Tegmine Fagi,’ Marie Clotilde Balfour gives a
gruesomely pathetic study of actuality in village tragedy
contrasted with the Dresden-china traditions of Strephon and
Chloe: and Mrs. Murray Hickson in ‘Our River’ adds her
quote to the rather extensive literature of landscape which
pervades the book. Francis Watt’s ‘Sergeant-at-Law’ contains
facts; also a few legal repartees to which the years have lent a
pleasant crust. As for the poetry of the volume it is redeemed
from triviality of motive by Eva Gore-Booth’s series of sonnets,
mildy reminiscent of Rosetti, but not without individual
distinction. Richard Garnett’s sonnet is stately as the forest-
alley of his theme, but its intention is perhaps a little remote.
The authoress of ‘D’Outre Tombe’ would seem to have been
unconsciously attracted to the metre of and Wie einst im
of Hermann v. Hilm’s Allerseelen. The ‘Art’ of this
number would fare badly without Mrs. Stanhope Forbes’s ‘A
Dutch Woman’ and D. Y. Cameron’s two drawings. Charles
Conder‘s ‘Windermere’ by any other name would be as
unintelligible; and Frances Macdonald should learn that even
the most wicked and hopelessly symbolic of bogies ought to be
nicely drawn.

MLA citation:

“Yellow and Green.” Review of The Yellow Book, vol. 10, July 1896, National Observer 15 August 1896, pp. 393-4. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019.