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'An Open-Eyed Conspiracy' is an extremely delightful book, and delightful in a way in which many American writers have long striven, and are still striving to attract, or distract, the attention of their readers, but in which Howells alone can be said to have attained distinction. He represents an element in the character of his countrymen, literary and otherwise, which may be roughly described as a sleepless sense of humor, which expends itself in some minds in large exaggerations of thought and speech, in others in the invention of tumultuous incidents and the horseplay of practical jokes, and in others in the exploitation of dialects, Eastern, Western, Southern, which never obtained anywhere, the vagaries and absurdities of bad grammar and worse spelling. Mr. Howells is a humorist of a higher kind ?of the highest kind, we venture to think? not so much, perhaps, because his intellectual gifts are more abundant than theirs as because he has a clearer idea of their legitimate value and of the uses to which they should be put, because he is a student of humorous literature in its entirety and its specialties, and, more than all, a thoughtful, skillful master of the literary art. With the exception of Washington Irving, he is the only American man of letters of a humorous kind whom it is always a pleasure to read for the sake of his literature, which fulfils all the conditions and violates none of the minor morals of good writing; it is easy and exact, elegant and felicitous, individual and scholarly, and with a certain unpremeditated charm which defies analysis. Primarily a humorist, he is more than a humorist in his novels, and more than a humorist, pure and simple, in his lesser studies of American life and manners, of which 'An Open-Eyed Conspiracy' is a fine example. He calls it 'An Idyll of Saratoga', a sub-title which suggests rather than describes the class of productions that it illustrates. It is more than an idyll, as the phrase is commonly understood, so much more, and so different in some respects, that it might not be amiss to call it a comedy instead. It is jeweled with the liveliness of movement and the lightness of truth which is the life of comedy. The characters are sketched rather than drawn, hinted rather than painted; the situations are amusing, and not too provocative of doubt as to their ending, and here and there are little touches of satiric fun, unexpected gleams of wit, which add a sparkle to the freshness and gayety of the whole. No one who has seen, even casually and without reflection, the kind of hotel life which forms the background of this pretty summer play can fail to perceive the fidelity with which Mr. Howells has transferred its spirit to his pages; the closeness of his observation and his enjoyment of it for its own sake. Like the angler of whom Walton tells us, he handles his worms as if he loved them. A kindly, gentle nature and a satisfying writer, Howells is at his best in this 'Open-Eyed Conspiracy.'

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