No corrections yet
Ever since it was rumoured that Australian Christmas literature was to be enriched by the issue of the "Antipodean," a joint enterprise undertaken by Messrs. George Essex Evans and
John Tighe Ryan, public curiosity was roused as to the nature of the new venture ; and when the first preliminary announcements were followed by a list of contributors and the publication of the promised bill of fare, expectation was on all sides raised to quite an unusual pitob. Besides scouring the assistance of a number of well-known writers devoted more exclusively to literary pursuits, the editors were fortunate in obtaining artioles from the pens of Lady Jersey, Sir Henry Parkos, Sir S. W. Griffith, and Mr. W. O. Hodgkinson ; so that even in a country that has hitherto dealt unkindly with the magazine class of literature success seemed praotioally assured. It is a pleasure now to be able to state that the " Antipodean" does not fall short of the sanguine hopes entertained by its well-wishers. It is a production of which the promoters are entitled to be proud, and which reflects distinct oredit upon the colonies. The meohanical work was done in London, and no more need be said in this respect than that as regards form, type, and illustrations, nothing is left to be desired. The introduction, by Lady Jersey, is marked by some delicate refe rences to the culture of the Antipodeans. Europeans are reminded that if all their art treasures had been destroyed for a generation they would hare found profioiency in painting, souiptnre, or architecture exceedingly diffi cult of attainment; but as far as the literature of Australia is concemod, Old World oritios are simply asked to read the present miscellany and judge for themselves. The joints of the repast are re presented, as is perhaps natural, by the papers from Sir 8. W. Griffith and Sir Henry Parkos. The Queensland - Premier deals with the coloured labour question in Australia, and earnestly deprecates any attempt to definitely decido upon the points involved until riper experience may come to our aid. Sir Henry Parkes conjures up the shades of Wont worth and of Lang, making the latter satirical at the expense of the former with regard to the nominee chamber prinoiple of the Wentworth constitution. As a dealer in the refinements of satire, how ever, Sir Henry is not a success. While in veighing against the " precious Upper Cham ber" of Wentworth, Lang is made, to exclaim, " Look at the latest appointments !" To him replies Wentworth, "I have looked at them with disgust and loathing. There were no such men in our day. Where did they come from?" With Parkesian humour Lang declares, " Better not inquire. The police, I am told, have enough to do. 1' In a goldfields sketch en titled " Ah Kirn ; or, Is Marriage a Fraud ?" Mr. Hodgkinson has found himself in a congenial sphere, and has lightened his work with some happy touches. On " The Australian Drama" Mr. H. J. Taperell discourses with evident knowledge of his subject, and in a fresh and vigorous style. Australian scenery meets with I'ust appreciation from Mr. Price Fletcher, who tas earned considerable reputation as " Bush Naturalist" in the Queentlander. In a character sketch of the Antipodean girl Mrs. Charming Neill has not allowed her love of outspoken honesty to be fettered by the chains of ex pediency ; while Mr. C. E.Robin discourses as a pedagogue of experience upon that extraordinary compound—the Australian schoolboy. Mr. H. I/Blake provides a foil to Sir S. W. Griffith's article in an interesting sketch of the kanaka. '•My Gulf Helmet," by Christophus, other wise, we presume, Mr. Essex Evans, betrays an attractive vein of humour; while "Christmas in the Far West," by Henry Lawson, is of a thoroughly original cast. Mr. Lawson's sketch, in faot, shows that among our younger writers there is a promising foundation for a distinc tively Australian school. What we have mentioned are by no means all of the attrac tions of the "Antipodean." The poetry scattered throughout will strengthen the reputation of several of our Australian songsters; while the remaining sketches and short stories are all of a class that urge the reader on and on. There oan be no laying the "Antipodean" down to finish "at another time." It is pre-eminently one of those colleo tions which must be consumed at a sitting. An advance copy of the magazine reached us on Tuesday, and it is understood that it will be ready for distribution to the publio to day (Saturday).