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Jackanapes and The brownies. Ewing, Juliana Horatia Gatty, 1841–1885.
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The Riverside Literature Series

Each regular single number, paper, 15 cents. All prices of the Riverside Literature Series are net, Educational, postpaid.

  • 1. Longfellow's Evangeline. *
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  • 3. Longfellow's Courtship of Miles Standish. DRAMATIZED.
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Also, bound in linen:

* 25 cents.

** 4 and 5, in one vol., 40 cents; likewise 6 and 31, 11 and 63, 28 and 36, 29 and 10, 30 and 15, 32 and 133, 39 and 123, 40 and 69, 42 and 113, 55 and 67, 57 and 58.

‡ Also in one vol., 40 cents.

‡‡ 1,4, and 30 also in one vol., 50 cents; likewise 7, 8, and 9; 28, 37, and 27; 33, 34, and 35; 64, 65, and 66.

§ Double Number, paper, 30 cents; linen, 40 cents.

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Copyright, 1902,
All rights reserved.

The Riverside Press, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A.
Electrotyped and Printed by H. O. Houghton & Company.

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ALFRED GATTY was an English clergyman, vicar of Ecclesfield in Yorkshire, where in 1841 his daughter Juliana Horatia, afterward Mrs. Ewing, was born. The Gattys seem to have been an exceptionally clever family. While the children were still very young they learned to amuse each other by story-telling, and a little later they edited and wrote a story-magazine, which was not printed, but circulated in manuscript among their friends. Juliana was particularly good as an oral story-teller and mimic, and even as a child evidently had something of the magnetism which is so important an element in her nature work. Indeed, one can hardly think of her written stories as mere compositions; the author seems to be talking to us frankly and unaffectedly, and paper and ink serve only as conductors for that sweet and friendly voice. Her first book of stories was published when she was twenty-one years old, and from that time to the end of her not very long life she was producing tales in prose and verse, most of them about children.

In 1866 began the publication of " Aunt Judy's Magazine," edited by the Gattys, and really the public continuation of the nursery magazine with which they had grown up. At twenty-five Miss Juliana Gatty was married to Major Ewing of the British Army. Soon afterward hewas stationed in New Brunswick, where Mrs. Ewing and he lived for several page: iv[View Page iv] years. Here she naturally learned a good deal about army life. It is odd that although she was continually writing stories, many of which were published in "Aunt Judy's Magazine," it did not occur to her for some time to make literary use of her army experience. At last in 1872, she wrote her first soldier story, "The Peace Egg." This tale is not very well known now, but the two which followed, "Jackanapes," and "The Story of a Short Life," not only became quickly popular, but are as widely read and as generously cried over to-day as they ever were.

In the mean time the Ewings had returned to England, where Mrs. Ewing lived for the rest of her life. In 1873 a part-editorship of "Aunt Judy's Magazine" fell into her hands, and was retained for about two years. But she had always been delicate. The routine of regular work was very difficult for her; and when, a few years after the return from New Brunswick, Major Ewing was transferred to Malta, she was not strong enough to go with him. Consequently they were separated for several years, and when he was finally ordered back to England she had not long to live; she died at Bath in 1885.

The secret of Mrs. Ewing's charm is hardly a secret at all. As a woman she was simple, sympathetic, and universally beloved; and she was the rare sort of person who is just as lovable in print as in real life. She is a writer of sentiment, but of sentiment wholly free from mawkishness or strained pathos. Her work is marked by a tender humor which reminds one of Dr. John Brown more than of anybody else. We are not so tolerant of the pathetic as our fathers were in the days of Colonel Newcome and Little Nell. A good many people find fault nowadays with Mrs. Ewing's page: v[View Page v] stories because they are so sad. But if the reader is not too ready to be cast down, he will notice that Mrs. Ewing herself is never so sad that she is not a little merry too. She does not admit that the sacrifice of Jackanapes's life was a waste, or a slip on the part of Providence; and the lifelong grief of the poor Doctor in "The Brownies," instead of embittering him, makes him more tender and considerate of the happiness of those who have not yet known the hard discipline of bereavement. Mrs. Ewing might not have been willing, considering them from a larger point of view than what is comfortable to one's feelings, to admit that her stories do not "turn out right." She evidently perceived that pain and death are as valuable incidents in human experience as life and happiness; or, rather - for she was a great lover of life and happiness - she seems to have felt that pain and death are preferable to selfishness and dishonor.

Mrs. Ewing's style was the direct expression of her nature, simple and spontaneous, yet with the unmistakable hall-mark of social and literary good-breeding. It would not be an exaggeration to say, adapt- ing the phrase so often used of Thackeray, that one of her chief distinctions is to have written like a gentlewoman. But this quality alone would not account for her continued popularity, any more than to have written like a gentleman accounts for Thackeray's. We must refer it rather to the sweet and sound philosophy, the gracious womanhood, which are at the basis of all her work.

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