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Book Review

"A Necklace of Stories," The Academy 16 (July - Dec. 1879): 444.

A Necklace of Stories. By Moncure Conway. Chatto and Windus, 1880.

A Necklace of Stories. By Moncure D. Conway. (Chatto and Windus.) This is a collection of thoughtful and suggestive stories, with underlying meanings of a kind one might expect from a teacher like Mr. Moncure Conway. Several of them seem designed as protests against the monstrous overgrowth of superstition that prevents the light of religion from penetrating to men's hearts, and one of them in particular, called "The Unfinished Island," is an allegory in which the Diviners who dwell in the Temple of the Beautiful One play a hateful part. Others, such as "The Naturalist, the Child, and the Hunting Bird," "The Bucket and the Acorn," "Bernard and Robin Redbreast," "The Bulb and the Mole Cricket," convey simpler lessons that could be understood even b y children. But although the book would seem to be designed for young readers, it is doubtful whether by but the most thoughtful among them would be likely to appreciate or understand it. We would commend it instead to the attention of parents who are experiencing difficulties regarding the religious training of their children, not desiring any longer to lead them in the old paths, but yet uncertain as to new. The story of "The Child and the Image" sums up in a few words the teaching of much modern philosophy. The child is frightened by a grotesque mediaeval demon carved over a church door, and asks, "Where does that bad one live?" "He doesn't live at all," explains the father; "there isn't any bad deity. They thought so, but they were mistaken, just as you were mistaken in thinking that stone could hurt you." "But why did they not take it down when they found they were mistaken?" again queries the child, and is told how it was kept to make people believe how ugly it was to be wicked and cruel, but that it did frighten good people as well as bad "until they rose above it." Of such sort are the lessons taught in these poetical little stories - lessons that will be deemed wise or harmful by those who read them according to the training they have received or the opinions they have adopted.

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