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3 corrections, most recently by djbcjk - Show corrections

REVIEWS OF BOOKS.

"From Franklin to Nansen"—Tales of   Arctic Adventure retold by G. Firth Scott; James Bowden, London.—Mr. Scott was for     some years an Australian journalist, and  

he is now gradually climbing the ladder of literary fame in the metropolis of the world. This work, however, has little ori- ginality about it, and could not have in the circumstances of its publication. It is simply a boiling-down of the history of Arctic   exploration; but it is done as a capable journalist alone could do it, and the infor- mation is brought right up to last year. So   far as we have been able to test it, it is an accurate compilation, and as such would be useful for institutes and other libraries, not merely as a book of reference, but on account of the human interest which is roused by every page of the volume. How the time flies! The reports of the Franklin Relief Expedition seem quite fresh reading even to-day, and yet Sir John Franklin died on June 11, 1847. Almost the last message of which he was conscious was the assurance of the success of the work in which   he had been engaged. The man died—his     achievements remain the inheritance of his fellows; and so the world wags. "Negro Nobodies," by Noel de Montag- nac; T. Fisher Unwin, London.—The     Overseas Library has given to the reading public many a manuscript which might otherwise had been denied to them to their loss. "Negro Nobodies" is a welcome little production. It deals with the black inhabi- tants of Jamaica, West Indies, of whom the author has a high opinion. He says:—   "They are people who, having had few ad- vantages, are yet surprisingly clever with words, who think and feel, and who are cer- tainly not to be despised. They are the people of whom the tourist has been kind enough to write, but of whom he know nothing; they are the people who had been, and arc still, misunderstood—who, how-   ever, more sincerely love their Queen; who,   when all things are considered, more truly serve their God?'' Mr. Montagnac has successfully grappled with the dialect, and has shown in a set of nine lively atones that the negro nobodies of Jamaica are a people full of intense hu- mour and human nature. "Famous Trials of the Century," by J. B. Atlay, M.A., barrister-at-law; Grant Richards's Colonial Library.—The century     is being written up in a hundred and one different departments, and the above is one which Mr. Atlay has ably taken in hand. The task is uct easy, because the State   Trials break off short in the year 1820, and the criminal annals of the next 80 years re- main for the most part buried in the files of the daily Press. The author says:—   ''I have written neither for the school- room nor the law student, and my object has been to show that the drama of real life does not fall behind the boldest imaginative efforts of the detective novelist. The se- lection has been purely arbitrary, and should any measure of encouragement be afforded to the writer there remains a rich harvest of stories ripe for the telling." Mr. Atlay has proved himself to be a mo- del law reporter. In eight of the most re- markable criminal trials of the past hun- dred years he has presented his story in a style that could only be expected in mat- ters of fiction, and never once is the reader reminded that there is such a thing as dry-as-dust law. The history of the cases is followed by a judiciously pruned account of the Court proceedings, in which we are introduced to many of the most eminent of English Judges and lawyers in some of their greatest triumphs and fail- ures. The book deals with the Gill's Hill tragedy, which stirred the people of Eng- land in 1823; the case of Burke and Hare, who throttled 16 people in Scotland, and sold the bodies to a doctor for dissecting purposes; the murder of Lord John Russell by his valet, a sad miscarriage of justice resulting in the transportation of William Henry Barber, a rising London solicitor; the trial of the beautiful Madeline Smith on a charge of having poisoned her lover; the Road Mystery, in which a sixteen-year- old giri butchered her young brother; the case of Dr. Pritchard, the inhuman woman- poisoner; and the historical Tichborne trial. The last-named takes up half of the book, and the author needlessly apologizes for the disproportionate space it occupies. He points out that, though a most interest- ing and accurate version of the Tichborne matter is to be found in French, there has been, to the best of his knowledge, no at- tempt made in England to give any cohe- rent and continuous account of Arthur Or- ton's monstrous imposture. Mr. Atlay has shown admirable judgment in reducing to reasonable proportions, without sacrific- ing one salient point, the history of this re- markable and inordinately long case. No mention is made of the enquiry which has just been concluded in New South Wales with respect to the lunatic William Cress- well, who has been put forward as the lost Sir Roger. A perusal of Mr. Atlay 's history of the Tichborne case leaves no doubt in the mind of the reader that the missing Baronet met with a watery grave, with the rest of these on board the Bella.       "Famous Trials of the Century" are more interesting than the exploits of Sherlock Holmes, because they are dramas of real life. We shall be surprised if Mr. Atlay does not receive the encouragement he needs before publishing more of the rich harvest of criminal stories that remain to be told. Miscellaneous Reviews.—Longmans,     Green, & Co., London, have sent us a copy of a new issue of "The World's De- sire," bv H. Rider Haggard and Andrew Lang. This book, which contains some fine writing as well as the recital of many mov- ing incidents, was first published in Lon- don in 1880, and has been reproduced since in various forms. Mr. Andrew Lang being one of its authors, its ethnology is naturally strong; and Mr. Haggard being the other, there is no lack of bloodshed.—Through   Mr. W. C. Rigby we have received reprints in attractive paper covers of Max Adeler's "Out of the Hurly-burly" and Hawley Smart's "From Post to Finish." Both lit- tle volumes are remarkably cheap and yet comely. They are published by Ward, Lock, & Co., London, who have also for- warded Whyte Melville's "Satanella," the latest of their new edition of that attrac- tive writer's novels, which are so well known as not to require recommendation. From the same source has come to us "Australian Wonderland—a Fairy Chain,"   by A. A. B. and Helumac, illustrated by Louise M. Glazier. The authors evidently know how to arrest and hold the interest of the little folk, who are the real masters as well as the idols of our households, and we have nothing but words of praise for this latest juvenile work with distinctively Australian characteristics. Certainly, for its thorough appreciation a vivid ima- gination is needed, but all things are possible, and even natural in the domain of the fairies!—Two   volumes of Macmillan's Library of Eng- lish classics have reached us—one, Bacon's   essays "Colours of Good and Evil and the Advancement of Learning," and the se- cond, "The Plays of Richard Brinsley She- ridan." The idea of the publishers is to   issue reprints of the various standard works of English literature in large type and at a comparatively cheap price. The books are not to contain any new matter, but the purpose is to present typographic- ally perfect reproductions of the best exist- ing texts. In deciding the question, "which is the best edition to republish?" they have secured the guidance of Mr. Pollard, Hon. Secretary of the Bibliographical Society; and if they should continue the enterprise as they have begun it the experiment should be crowned with success.—"Points,     Parables, and Pictures: New Illustrations for Preachers, Teachers, and Platform Speakers," by the Rev. H. O. Mackey; John Bowden, London.—The compiler of   this work is also the author of "One Thou- sand New Illustrations," a book which has had a remarkably successful career from the day of its first appearance. The best that can be said is that this sequel is worthy of its predecessor. The illustrations are apt, even if some people in the commu- nity will object to the reprinting of Car- lyle's dictum—"Journalists are now the     true kings and clergy." The volume is well furnished with subject and textual indices; it is not only a rich storehouse, but a re- pository with keys available to every one, so that whose wills may enter it and take such treasures as he wants. "She Walks in Beauty," by Katherine Ty- nan; MacMillan &. Co., through W. C. Rig- by.—This cheery story carries one back to     the methods of twenty years ago. There is no attempt at writing up anything like real life. We find ourselves with those beautiful penniless young ladies, who, after small love troubles, end up with Dukes and Earls for husbands, having incidentally received for- tunes from old maids or unexpected deaths. The scene is laid in Ireland, which gives to the authoress a chance to introduce amusing scenes, and the first chapters are bright and full of Hibernian untidiness and high spirits. The men are also conventional types—either very bad or unnaturally good;     but the bad die, the good come into their own, and everything ends in an unnatural glow of happiness; so it does not very much matter how wretched some of them were. The authoress misses a chance with her London scenes. Surely any one so bright as Pamela is represented to be would have risen a little to the occasion, and not have been so utterly cowed and dowdy! Quaint old customs still survive in many parts of England. In Ely Place, Holborn, a watchman cries the hours nightly with the same formula in use for centuries past. "Past 1 o'clock, and a cold wet morning."

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