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BOOK NOTICES., Issue 7950, 4 July 1889
Wild Will Enderby. By Vincent Pyke, London : Hutchinson and Co. Dun edin : Wise, Caffin, and Co.
A ne n edition of this capital story has juet been placed on the market, and will doubtless meet with a cordial reception from English critics and general readers—or, if it does not, we misjudge the taste of literary people at headquarters. It is a talo of the Dunstan rush, told by one who—well versed in the unwritten history of the period, possessing an experimental acquaintance with diggers and diggings, and moreover gifted with literary capacity that has ripened in the sun of a lifelong training—is peculiarly qualified to prophesy on these matters. We have on a previous occasion given it as our opinion that 'Wild Will Enderby' is one of the most meritorious of colonial stories, and therefore do not now purpose to vex our readers with a detailed notice of the work ; but may bo for once more calling attention to the exquisite word paintings which ornament its pageß. Hawca Lake, the Dunedin Haibor, and the bird'aeye vitw of tho Dunßtau Plain those descriptions are among Mr fyke's happiest efforts, and we cannot forbear giving one as a sam pie: Nearly four thousand feet below ho beheld the level expanse of tho Dunstan Plain, with the great river Molyncux (the Olutba of tbe map.-) winding through tha centre, Ihshingback the dazzling sunlight from its surface. Clusters of snowy tents dotted the river bank; and larger patches of white, where ftaily colored flags fluttered like gaudy flowers, denoted tho sites of rival townships. In tho distance they li-okcii like mere toyu of jmny diim-uirions, ami the bravest banner in tu*t tented field showed immeasurably umallej than a child's handkerchief. Dark specks were crawling to and fro like insects on the plain, but these were men, standing some feet and iochea high. Horßcmen galloping ever so swiftly Beemed but to wove with the rapidity of snails. The clouds of dust that shrouded lumbering waggons, laden with all that commerce could offer in excharge for gold, appeared no greater than the wreaths_ of smoke which escaped from the obsorver'B pipe. 'Tis humiliating to think how small a thing is man and man's belongings, when viewed from an elevated standpoint. Around the margins of the plain—once a lake, wbnre, untold ages since, gigantic moas quenched their tbiret arose terrace 3bo wondrouslyresembling military earthworks, that had an armed host suddenly appeared th reon it would scarcely have excited surprise. Over and beyond these towered massive mountain range?, four, five, six thousand feet and moro above the plain—all giidlcd and flecked wikh snow on thoir southern peaks, and in the sheltered ravines. Northwards, St. Bathans reared his hoary head high above his fellows. In the immediate foreground frowned the heavy Dunstan Barges, capped by the "Leaning Bock." showing in sharp outline against the clear blue sky; and the broad bosom of Mount Pisa, looming over the shoulder of the Carn-miv'r, bounded tho far horizon. "Westward, the purple hills culminated in the Obelisk—tho "Old Man" of miner's parlance. Beyond arose the twin peaks of Ben Nevis; and far exceeding and surpassing all, the Double Cone of the Remarkables, on the shores of Lake "Wakaiipu. These last, as seen from afar, ehimmering in the crystal robes of winter, appeared almost as a silver cloud. But clouds, like human passions, pass by and are not: the mountains stand like the decrees of the Creator, solid, immovable, majestic —tbe same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.
The present edition of «Wild Will Enderby ' is the sixth that has been issued. We welcome it for old acquaintance' sake, and for its merits, and because it will give English readers a better opinion of colonial authors than that which must have been formed by those who have confined their attention to some works that b&vc immediately preceded it. It will be observed, by the way, that in the last page a hint is given that 'George Washington Pratt * may follow in the wake of * Wild Will' on the English market.
Zcalandia: A monthly magazine of New Zealand literature by New Zealand authors. Edited by William Freeman. The pioneer number of this magazine is is now before the public. It is unpretentious in appearance, and disfigured with a decidedly smudgy cover, but the reading matter of forty-eight pages is fairly well printed in readable type, and it is ploasant to be able to say without reservation that the literary work is exceedingly creditable. The aims in view are B9t out as follows in the editorial preface,-.—"Not a fow of the best friends of literature in this colony have become convinced that, in spite of the many well-meaning periodicals which have been established in New Zealand with varying success, no thoroughly popular—and therefore no thoroughly successful—effort has yet been made to systematically bring forward the very large amount of literary talent which is known to exist hero, and which has spasmodically attracted public attention from time to time. ' Zealandia' is the outcome of this conviction. The promoters of this magazine feel that another vehicle for the conveyance of the productions of English authors to the New Zealand literary market is altogether superfluous. Colony though it may be, New Zealand is a nation—not yet beyond its embryonic form,
but stili a nation ; and to the realisation of this truth is duo tho fact that' Zcalandia' has been established as a distinctively national literary magazine. Its contributors will be all New Zealanders, and no subject will be dwelt upon in its pages that is not of interest, directly or indirectly, primarily to New Zealanders. It is nothing to ua that it may prove of interest, secondarily, to all the world beside." From this it will be seen that it is not intended to compete in any way with the numerous English and American magazines. ' Zcalandia ' is going to blaz-i a track of its own, and therein lies its chance of success; for opposition to the well-established periodicals would be simply battering at a solid rock, whereas by relying on our own writers and our own renders the outcome will at least bo something new. And tho field is not an unpromising ono. New Zealand has, perhaps, as large a percentage of reading people as any country in the world—the fact of so many newspapers maintaining an existence is proof of that statement; and it is not an idle boast to say that many of our best known writers, and possibly some who have as yet but commenced to grow feathers, can produce work that on its-merits would not disgrace tho 'Nineteenth' or other highclass periodicals. It seems to us that tho promoter have made a wise choice in issuing what may be called a popular magazine instead of attempting to imitate tho ponderosity of the more critical of the Old World publications. 'Zcalandia' v< sent forth to amuse as well as to instinct, and, if tho volume now before us is to be l:iken as a fair specimen, it may be expected to interest that very large class of readers who, possessing a taste for something superior to sensational novelettes, have no time to cxploro the abysses of philosophical and analytical treatises on abstract ijuestious. Wc think, indeed, that 'Zcalandia' is just what is wanted, aud if it should fail—which wc do not dread-—we may take it that the public do not deserve to be catered for. To bi itfly note the contents of the present issue : it may bo remarked that in tho first place the editor informs us that ' Zcalandia ' is to be conducted "upon lines such as tho great master of English literature himself (Dickens) would have chosen had ho carried out his throat and brought his genius to our shores"—a promise that may be dilfieult to redeem, seeing that there is no telling what Dickens would have done under the circumstances. This, however, is neither here nor there. Wo know what Dickens did, and if ' Zcalandia' is anything like ' All tho Year Round,' there will be no reason for discontent. There is a serial story, of which enough is given to afford half an hour's reading, eutitled 'The Mark of Cain,'by Owen Graham. The stylo of the story is promising, and so far as one can foresee there is an interesting complication to be unravelled. The Rev. E. Waddell contributes a paper on ' Some social responsibilities of a young country." The only fault of tho paper 13 that it is necessarily but a set of suggestions, thero being no space to amplify. Mr Waddell is the exceptional prophet who has honor in his own country ; on these subjects ho is peculiarly giitetl to speak ; and wc may hope that in future numbers he will have space to open his mind to some extent. Poetry is represented by a smartly written tale of ' Our Pet Kangaroo,' by Mr Thomas Bracken, whose name is in itself a guarantee against rubbish. Mr Malcolm Ross has sent in a warmly - colored sketch of wanderings in the Manapouri district being apparently the first instalment of a series of sketches to be called ' Wanderings in Lakeland.' The writer is a grateful worshipper of Nature's beauties, and possesses the power of making up very pretty word pictures; and, further, his descriptions are topographically correct, which is more than can be said of some who aspire to tell us of unfrequented spots in this and other countries. The somewhat striking error of referring to Maori women as " Waihenas " may, we suppose, be charitably set down as a printer's mistake. Mr W. P. Reeves tells a stay called 'A Helplest Spectator'—a tale of a man who, for purposes of revenge, burns down his neighbor's homestead, and causes the death of a lunatic girl immured therein. It is a somewhat dismal narration, but there is no denying its power to enchain one's interest to the finish. In the concluding paragraph, by the way, Mr Reeves has been guilty of what to a devout Presbyterian will be considered a grave offence in misquoting from the 139 th Psalm. David's words are in some way confused with a yhrase uttered by one of the minor prophets [vide Holy Writ). Mr f!. M. Thomson sends in a readablo paper opening up food for thought to thoso who delight in studying our flora and fauna; "Zealaudia's Fair'' is tho heading to a fashion column for the ladies ; there arc letters addressed to our girls and our boys ; chess and draughts receive special attention ; there is a page devoted to a notice of new music ; and " The Corner Cobweb" is the place in which jokes arc found. The first instalment of funnyisms is not a very good one, but it is a field that should be easily expanded. On the whole wc arc satisfied with the prouiir.c of tho first number of the niagazitio, and sincerely wibh tho promoters of ' Zcalandia.' ;i hourly welcome at tho hands of the public.
BOOK NOTICES., Issue 7950, 4 July 1889
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