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About This Book
In this volume Mr. Howells has collected three short pieces which show his power under various aspects. The pleasantest and in a literary sense the best of the three is the charming paper on 'Lexington, ' originally contributed to Longman's Magazine. It is distinguished by that happy faculty of description, that sure artistic eye, and that genial spirit which constitute so much of the fascination of his larger works; flashes of characteristic humor surprise us in its delicate pages; and it has all that strong individual flavor which makes the best writing of Mr. Howells so different from the rest of the good writing which is getting to be abundant in books. The second village in his collection is the Shaker settlement of 'Shirley.' If Lexington was a theme for a dainty literary exercise, Shirley served him rather for a plain and sympathetic account of a community which he seems to have regarded with a tender interest. The quiet and simple tone of the paper is in perfect accord with the life it portrays. The story of the Moravian Indian settlement of 'Gnadenhütten, ' on the Muskingum, and the brutal massacre by which the white frontiersmen blotted it out in 1782, is vigorously told in the last chapter of the book, where Mr. Howells shows his skill in tragic narrative rather than description.