The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
Some Books to Read in the Holidays.

by Herbert D. Geldart.
Volume 4, 1893/94, pgs. 744-746

      How well I know what I mean to do
      When the long dark autumn-evenings come;
      . . . . . . . .
      I shall be found by the fire, suppose,
      O'er a great wise book as beseemeth age,
      While the shutters flap as the cross-wind blows,
      And I turn the page, and I turn the page,
      Not verse now, only prose!
      R. Browning.

The Summer is gone, the long dark evenings are upon us, the time for reading has come, let us see what fresh books we can find. It is pleasant to sit by the fire and wander over the world in imagination, so we will begin with books of Travel, Adventure, and Residence Abroad.

Where Three Empires Meet. A narrative of recent travel in Kashmir, Western Tibet, Gilgit and the adjoining countries, by E. F. Knight. An excellent account of the "Happy Valley" of Kashmir, and of the "little war" which ended prosperously in the taking of Nilt and the occupation of Nagar and Hunza. The author reached a spot where in an undefined way on the high "Roof of the World " the three greatest Empires of the earth meet--Great Britain, Russia, and China. He also went to Leh, from whence he made an expedition to the Lamasery of Himis, where he witnessed a mystery play and devil-dance. He describes the tiniest independent state in the world of only twelve houses, where everybody is an M.P., and no measure can be passed unless all are unanimous.

The Danube from the Black Forest to the Black Sea. [by Francis Davis Millet] Three friends, two at least of them artists, started in canoes from the head waters of the Danube, and paddled and drifted down the whole length of that river, two of them reaching the sea, and having a good and jolly time of it. This book is charmingly illustrated with sketches of both figures and landscapes.

Wanderings by Southern Waters. Eastern Aquitaine, by E. Harrison Barker. Studies of the Valleys of the Dordogne, the Tarn and the Lot. The name of this book "conveys no idea of the freshness, originality and romance of its pages." The region described is one very rarely visited by English people even by rail. The author lived amongst the peasantry, and tells us of their common life. Rocamadour was an ancient shrine of pilgrimage when Henry II. of England went there, and is still visited by pilgrims, "as little changed from their ancestors whom the Plantagenet found there as is the physiognomy of the ancient town." Figeac is remarkable for its Gothic and Renaissance domestic architecture, whole streets remaining of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. At the Montagnes Fumantes near Cransac are beds of coal which have been burning for centuries, and to which belongs a legend that the English fired them out of spite when they abandoned Guienne. Mr. Barker is announced as being engaged on a further volume of Wanderings in the country extending from Auvergne to the Gironde. Two other books, not quite so recent, dealing with adjoining districts of France, The Roof of France, by M. Betham Edwards, and Our Home in Aveyron, by G. C. Davies and Mrs. Broughton, are almost equally interesting, and there is in Harper, for September last, a well illustrated article in "Rocamadour, Albert Durer Town."

Our Wherry in Wendish Lands, by H. M. Doughty. A pleasant cruise in a Norfolk Wherry through the canals and lakes of Northern Germany. Starting from Leuwardein, he went by way of Emden to Wilhelmshaven and Bremerhaven and thence to Hamburg, he particularly enjoyed his sail on the Mecklenburg Lakes little known to Englishmen, and he penetrated into Saxon Switzerland and Bohemia by the help of the Elbe; here again are plenty of good illustrations by some of the party.

Wild Spain, by Abel Chapman and Walter J. Buck. A most interesting book by thorough-going indefatigable sportsmen--naturalists. Mr. Chapman was the first Englishman who sketched a flamingo on her nest, and solved the problem whether she "sits standing," as the old writers thought she does. Though there is much about "sport" in it, this is not one of those books of interminable and senseless killing, which almost make one wish that the game could have a turn with the gun now and then (as the hare had in Struwwelpeter), and there are many observations of the habits of both birds and beasts--bustards, marsh birds nesting in the "marisma," eagles and vultures nesting among rocks, storks, ibex, feral camels imported from the Canary Islands and suffered to run wild, red deer, lynx and wild boar; also notices of the peasants and their ways.

Japan as we saw it, by Miss M. Bickersteth. In 1891 The Bishop of Exeter, accompanied by Miss Bickersteth, went to Japan for two months, to visit his son the Bishop of Japan. This is an admirable account of Japan from the missionary point of view, and there is a full description of the great earthquake of October, 1891, and, among other illustrations, two views of the destruction caused by the earthquake.

Life with Trans-Siberian Savages, by Douglas Howard. Is the story of a sojourn in Saghalien "the final destination of the unshot, the unhanged, the convicts and the exiles, who by frequent escapes or repeated murders have graduated perhaps from other prison stations throughout the vast territories of Russia and Siberia." Here the author became interested in the Ainu, the hairy aborigines. He lived for some weeks in an Ainu village, and describes their customs and mode of life, and his account of the Ainu under Russian government may be contrasted with that of the Rev. J. Batchelor, a missionary in Yezo, in The Ainu of Japan. In one respect, at all events, the subjects of Russia have the best of it, for no alcohol is allowed, but the Ainu of Japan are terrible drunkards.

In Savage Isles and Settled Lands, by B. F. S. Baden-Powell. Lieutenant Baden-Powell went out to Queensland as Aide-de-Camp to Sir Anthony Musgrave, and afterwards served in the same capacity with Sir Henry Norman; he visited Western Australia and also New Guinea, Borneo, Java, New Zealand, Samoa and many of the smaller and less known islands of the Pacific. Australia as a field for emigration is summed up shortly: "The labouring man will find it a paradise; the professional man will find his profession overstocked; and the man with money to invest will probably be ruined." Since Lieutenant Baden-Powell left the colony, even the labourer has ceased to regard the prospect as altogether Elysian.

(To be continued.)


Some Books to Read in the Holidays.
By Herbert D. Geldart. The Parents Review Vol. 4 pg. 839-845
(Continued from page 746.)

Travels and Adventure in South East Africa, by F. C. Selous. This is a sequel to A Hunter's Wanderings in South Africa, which was published in 1881, and which dealt with nine years of a sportsman's life. This book describes the pioneer march to Mashonaland, which led to the annexation of that country. Mr. Selous says, "Not only has the occupation of the country by the British South African Company been effected without wronging the native races, but it has very likely saved some of them from absolute destruction at the hands of the Matabili." Mr. Selous' account is of immense interest just now, when this very day has come the news of the defeat of the Matabili by the British. There are no end of adventures with lions, hippopotami, rhinoceroses, elephants, giraffes and all sorts of antelopes. Once the lions tried to storm the camp, and very nearly succeeded, "for a hungry lion is a true devil and fears nothing in this world."

The Partition of Africa, by Scott Keltie. Here we learn up to date (1893) what portion of the "dark continent" each European Power has appropriated in the scramble for territory, and also what there still remains to be fought or intrigued for. There are many Maps, one which shows the Annexations and Protectorates at a glance.

Diary of an Idle Woman in Constantinople, by Frances Elliot. An interesting account of Constantinople as the authoress saw it, from which a great deal may be learnt about the present condition both of the city and its inhabitants, and their manners. It is very pleasant reading.

Recollections of an Egyptian Princess by her English Governess, being a record of Five Years' Residence at the Court of Ismael Pasha, Khedive. Miss Chennells was for some time governess, and then companion to, and friend of, the Princess Zeyneb, daughter of the Khedive; and much of her time was spent within the walls of the harem in intimate association with the ladies of the viceregal family. No one could have enjoyed better opportunities for studying the Mohammedan social system in the highest circles, and few could have used them more discreetly. Miss Chennells did not live in the harem at first, her pupil coming to her for instruction; but from the time when the Princess was "shut up" at the age of thirteen she visited the harem daily, and from the time of the marriage of the Princess at the age of fifteen, she resided in the harem entirely, the only free woman, except the Princess there; all the rest, both whites and blacks, were slaves, and "wheels within wheels," some of the head slaves had slaves of their own.

Idle Days in Patagonia, by W. H. Hudson, author of The Naturalist in La Plata. The Naturalist was one of the most agreeable--almost fascinating--records of observation of the habits of animals I ever met with, and Idle Days is not far behind it. Mr. Hudson was shipwrecked on the coast of Patagonia, and had a weary tramp to El Carmen. Afterwards, when on a visit to a friend, he met with a revolver accident, and whilst his friend was gone for help he remained all night by himself; but not alone, for he had a bed-fellow "with a broad arrow-shaped head, set with round listless eyes like polished yellow pebbles, and a long smooth limbless body, strangely segmented and vaguely written all over with mystic characters in some dusky tint on an indeterminate grayish tawny ground:--'The Venomous Serpent with a cross.'" The snake escaped unhurt, and Mr. Hudson rejoiced, feeling that he should have suffered from a vicarious kind of remorse ever afterwards had it been killed. There is a curious chapter on "Sight in Savages," showing that the savage only observes things that concern him, and becomes very acute at distinguishing them; but in other things he is not so sharp sighted as a white man. Mr. Hudson has since published Birds in a Village, which I have not yet seen.

Some Further Recollections of a Happy Life. Though published last this treats of an earlier period, chiefly between 1859 and 1869, than the first Recollections did, and shows Miss North as a younger livelier person. Here is the Arab pilot's opinion of her, "This Bint was unlike most other English Bints, being firstly, white and lovely; secondly, she was gracious in her manner and of kind disposition; thirdly, she attended constantly to her father, whose days went in rejoicing that he had such a Bint; fourthly, she represented all things on paper, she drew all the Temples of Nubia, all the Sakkiah, and all the men and women and most of the palm trees; she was a valuable and remarkable Bint." Do you want a better summary of Miss North's character?

There are several Books of Travels, either very recently published or announced, which promise well, among them My Dark Companions and their Strange Stories, by H. M. Stanley; Eskimo Life, by Fridtjof Nansen; Chinese Central Asia, by Dr. Landsell.

Biography next claims attention.

Life of Sir Richard F. Burton, by his wife, Isabel Burton. The biography of the Pilgrim to Mecca, and the discoverer of Lake Tanganyika's connection with the Nile, cannot fail to be one of the most interesting of our time. Written by Lady Burton, his devoted wife for thirty years, it runs the inevitable risk of being perhaps a little too long and a shade too eulogistic.

Life and Work of John Ruskin, by W. G. Collingwood, adds a good deal to what we know of the facts of Mr. Ruskin's life as given by himself in Praeterita, but is it not a pity that such a memoir as this, which is very introspective and analytical, should have been published during Mr. Ruskin's life? Still it is very instructive and interesting.

Life of John Linnell, by A. F. Story. Linnell began life as son of a carver and gilder, in Bloomsbury, in by no means wealthy circumstances; by force of his own sturdiness and perseverance he achieved an high reputation as an artist, and died in his ninetieth year, worth, it is said, a quarter of a million. His uncompromising ruggedness was a disadvantage to him, and he himself seems to have attributed his exclusion from the Royal Academy to jealousy.

Life and Letters of the Right Hon. Robert Lowe, Viscount Sherbrooke. "Bob Lowe," as Punch called him, was a most successful "coach" at Oxford; went out to New South Wales and remained there eight years--returned and became Chancellor of the Exchequer, and got much laughed at for his proposed "match-tax." Here is what he got by his Chancellorship--

      "Twelve millions of taxes I took off,
      Left behind me six millions of gains;
      Of debt forty millions I shook off;
      And got well abused for my pains."

Life of E. B. Pusey, D. D., by H. P, Liddon, D. D., vols 1 and 2. These two volumes (out of four) were left unfinished at the time of Canon Liddon's death. Whatever view we may take of Dr. Pusey's influence on the English church, there is no denying the immense importance of that influence, or the interest of learning by what means it was acquired. Well acquainted with the "New Criticism," for he went to Germany to study it in its home; we know what impression it made on him by his "Daniel the Prophet." Had he left nothing else behind him, we should still be deeply indebted to him for that work alone.

There are several other biographies, either just out or promised shortly, which I have not seen or been able to get any definite account of, but which are sure to be worth watching for, amongst them Life and Letters of Sir R. Owen; Autobiography of Theobald Wolf Tone; Life and Times of the Rt. Hon. W. H. Smith; Landmarks of a Literary Career, by Mrs. Newton Crosland, "Camilla Toulmin."

Of scientific books which are likely to interest those who do not care to read dry science, there are The Great Barrier Reef of Australia, by W. Saville Kent. From this splendid book we may almost realize what a Coral Reef really looks like, and for the first time (so far as I know) photography has been e mployed to show the Coral Polypes expanded under water; there are also gorgeous chromo lithographs of sea anemones, corals, sea slugs and fish which are so brightly coloured that a gold fish is dowdy beside them. A History of Crustacea, by Rev. T. R. R. Stebbing, International Science Series. It is difficult to speak too highly of this excellent popular resume of what is known about crabs, lobsters, shrimps and other Crustacea, brought up to date, and profusely illustrated with woodcuts. Modern Microscopy, by M. L. Cross and M. I. Cole, a manual in two parts--Use of the Microscope, and Preparation of Objects recommended by Dr. Dallinger, whose word is quite sufficient voucher for the first part, and those who know the slides with the bull's head and the motto "Cole Deum" will not doubt the value of the second part.

Books in Manuscript, by Falconer Madan, with eight illustrations. Deals with materials used in writing--forms of MSS.--the history of handwriting--" scribes and their ways"--history of illumination--blunders of scribes--outline of principles with guide textual criticism--libraries--famous MSS.--literary forgeries--books of all sorts before the invention of printing. It also gives lists of books of reference on both writing and illumination. The only fault one feels inclined to find is that one wishes the book were longer.

Two works dealing with social questions follow.

A Colony of Mercy, or Social Christianity at Work. By Julie Sutter. Struck by the misery of epileptics who cannot support themselves, and by the want of any special provision for them, Pastor Von Bodelschwingh began with a small home for such cases in the Teutoberger Forest. Succeeding in this, his first effort, he has added to it other philanthropic schemes, and his Colony, his "Bethel," now includes--I. Bethel proper, Home for Epileptics; 1400 patients. II. Sarepta, Westphalian Motherhouse for the Training of Deaconesses; this has 600 sisters doing unpaid work. III. Nazareth, Westphalian Brotherhood. IV. Wilhelmsdorf, Labour Colony for Relief of Social Distress. V. Association Workmen's Home. Unless this is a too highly coloured narrative, the Pastor is doing a good work in the alleviation of social distress, and setting a grand example of effort towards solving difficult social problems, whilst some others are only talking about them.

National Life and Character, a Forecast. By C. H. Pearson, late Minister of Education in Victoria. Takes a pessimist view of the future of the white races of European origin, and anticipates great progress for the black, brown, and yellow races; in fact, looks forward to a time when Negro, Hindoo, and Chinaman will crowd out white men from the hotter portions of the earth, confining them to the temperate zones by force of competitions. Evidently written from an Australian point of view from whence, as from the Unites States, the exclusion of the Chinese is a "burning questions."

The two following books on the Capital Cities of Great Britain are simply charming:--

Royal Edinburgh. By Mrs. Oliphant, with illustrations by George Reid, R. S. A. As the title of her book implies, Mrs. Oliphant is chiefly concerned with the Royal associations connected with Edinburgh from the time of good Queen Margaret down to that of James I. of England. She also devotes three chapters to the men of letters connected with Modern Athens, selecting Allan Ramsay, Robert Burns, and Walter Scott as representatives. The illustrations by Sir George Reid are very forcible and picturesque, but some of them rather gloomy.

London. By Walter Besant, with 124 illustrations. The author, in his preface, calls his work and "endeavour to present pictures of the City of London"; it extends from the Roman occupation to the time of George II. "The history of London has been undertaken by many writers; the presentment of the city and the people from age to age has never yet been attempted." The text is embellished with dainty little pictures. Mr. Besant has also published a small book, History of London. "A history of the City and its institutions, written in the hope that the study of this history will be found helpful in the education of our children, to whom we have at last begun to teach something of their duties and responsibilities as citizens, the privileges of their position, and the meaning of their inheritance.

Of recent Fiction I can say but little, having seen but few new novels, and not much liking those that I have read, and greatly preferring old favourites. Now that one can buy the Waverleys; Charles Kingsley's, Hawthorne's, Dickens' and Charles Reade's best works for from threepence to sixpence each, and Thackeray's for a little more, it is hardly worth while to indulge in "psychological studies" and "risky situations" at a guinea or thirty-one-and-sixpence. One old romance which I did not meet with till very recently, An Egyptian Princess, by Georg Ebers, translated by Eleanor Grove--and so well done that one would hardly know it was a translation, can be heartily recommended, and I am told that Uarda by the same author is equally good. Those who admire "The Newcomes" may like to know, if they have not already seen it, that there is in the Nineteenth Century for October, and article by Canon Irvine, "A Study for Colonel Newcome," which gives an account of Thackeray's first introduction to the model from whom he drew the colonel as a Poor Brother of the Charterhouse.

Of course I do not pretend to have read all the books I have noticed, but I have included nothing that I have not seen that has not been well recommended by my own personal friends, and in some cases I have copied criticism from either the Athenaeum or the Academy.

Proofread by LNL, June, 2023