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ABOUT BOOKS AND BOOKMEN., Issue 10446, 16 October 1897
ABOUT BOOKS AND BOOKMEN.
The Fall of u Star. By Sir W. Magnay, Macmillan and Co., London (per Braithwaite). This ia a semi-political novel, the central figure being George Carstairs, who ia a Chesterfield and' Hare rolled in one. Thia is how the author describes the best side of hia political-scientific paragon; his other character is fascinating, though revolting, and the reader had better study it for himself. Carstairs had come to the front with a rush that almost took away men’s breath to contemplate, and, having got well ahead of his competitors, was running strong without signs of flagging. For sheer all-round brilliancy of intellect one looked in vain for his rival among contemporary rising geniuses. It was lonijo intenallo, indeed. And to the weight of talent he added the momentum of tact. He was blessed with the knack of giving his cleverness an eminently practical turn, and this, as soon as his brilliant university career was closed, had caused appointments and honors, not altogether barren, to fall thick upon him. A young man, as near thirty as forty, Carstairs was member of a score of learned societies, a Fellow of many an institute—scientific, engineering, academic, and commercial; theoretically an authority on law, and practically a gainer of verdicts; an author of books of travel without dulness, on public questions without priggishness, on art without parrotjargon, and even of poetry which could not be called pantichc. He held a professorial chair, and possessed as many learned hoods as would equip a cathedral chapter: he had orders enough to make even an eminent cosmopolitan violinist quiver with envy; and being on the high road, and travelling fast, tc more substantial honors, thought probably little enough of them all. For Carstairs had made hi: mark in Parliament, and a pretty deep one too His sjieeches always caused a sensation ; and ever in his earlier days, when lie was put up by stupid whips in the dinner hour, almost persuaded met to starvation or indigestion, so attractive wort they. . . . Undoubtedly Carstairs was the coming man on his side : it was impossible to cal' anyone else in the running, and nothing but the possible jealousy of his leader was likely to bai him from the front. Yet this lucky young man, who was passingly well endowed wdlh this world’: goods and was about to contract a higl matrimonial alliance, allowed himself to bs drawn into a Halation, in the first instance with a journalist of the female persuasion who was what is vulgarly termed “mashed” on him. The discovery of tin skeleton in Oarstair’s cupboard was due u the accidental strayiug from the boater track of one of the guests at Caynhan Castle, the seat of Carstair’s prospectivi father-in-law—a flue old specimen of the high-toned Tory peer, whose idiosyncracie are thus happily hit off:— Under the Feudal System the Earl of Nether avoir was a divinity-a Zeus; under the ivt/iim■: o King Snob, with everyone, down to pill-roller and soapboilers, snatching at titles and honor; the Earl of Nctheravon was still the unappvoacii able, possessing the unattainable—a 700-hundred year-old peerage. He appealed to a wider publi for homage and cot it, usually, far more willing! than under the Feudal System. But, as lias bee hinted, he was clever enough to see that in thes days of locomotion he must not stand still. Tc day there is no throne for a roi-fitiin’ant. Judge by results, there is no necessity for him to d much ; but he must keep before the public, an take up the national welfare with an carnestncs no need not feel. !So ho fluttered about gren questions, and pronounced gave opinions thcreo after the manner of an eminent specialist, who ca diagnose the disease and prescribe the cure bettc than anyone else. Ho 'took the chair at big polit oil meetings, wrote long and solid letters to ’ Th Times,’ made long and solid speeches in th Herds,. and was recognised by most people as politician and mistaken by some for a statosmar But what really made Lord Nether,ivou “a pe; sonage” was not his rank nor his wealth, neitlic bis prosy speeches nor his pompous essays. Ni He owed his undoubted position in the swim r Society to his four daughters, all exceeding! pretty. And the sweetest and bonniest of th quartet was the Lady Cecilia, the fiancee c Uarstair’s, to whose love of fun was due th inception of the midnight frolic, the oulocni of which was the unmasking of about a precious a villain as ever walked the earth How he murdered his journalistic admirer how he sought to “ remove ” everv parse -Di .mu iirorcmoi,c^u-3UsiiiL-iun pi ms errmesall the while preserving his pride and hendeu in the full glare of the fierce light that bea* on a rising political s'ar of the first magn tude—and how he is at last brought to ba are incidents in a well-constructed and ski fully worked out plot that will repa perusal of the as who relish novels of th apnOfifinriQl Ofrlnn
The Last Stroke. By Laurence L. Lynch, Ward, Lock and Co., London (per Wise), This is a detective story iu the best stylo of the author of «No Proof.' A Jewish adventuress, learning that only two lives stand between her nod the enjoyment of an estate and much wealth in England, trios by devious ways to put two young men (brothers) out of the way. She travels to America under an alia.-, traces the elder brother to the village of Glonville, and murders him in cold blood. Thouph her plans were so well laid that she succeeded in baffling the village coroner, a x mm of more than average intelligence and cli-.cernmcnt?, she proves no match in the end for the medico's friend, who is a veritable sleuth hound so far as criminals are concerned. Plot and counterplot unravel themselves with almost mystifying quickness, but Madame Jamieson, who is foiled at the moment when success seems surest, cheats the hangman, the excitement attendant on the arre3t of her fraternal co-conspirator proving too much for a weak heart.
Sir Walter IMvjh. By Martin A. S. Hume T. Fisher Unwin, London.
This is one of the 'Builders of Greater Britain ' series which Mr Unwin is issuing a? his contribution to the epoch of retrospect and review eulminatince in the Diamond Jubilee. The title has been chosen, we are toll, with the intention of including all "those whose sphere of activity has been, in the main, administrative, as well as those who have fought and explored by sea and laud. The able administrator is a less picturesque figure than the brilliant soldier or sailor, but the results of his unobtrusive diligence are frequently . more durable." The rahon d'etre of the publication i 3 thus stated :
There are some names—such as those of Ralegh (we prefer the old-fashioned way of spelling the name of the English Columbus) and Clivewhioli loom large in the .popular imagination, and lvjiiM not be omitted'from any assemhly-of British hnipire-bmlders. . . . While it may not be easy to add fresh lustre to the fame of these, whose achievements are already a household word with their fellow-countrymen, the series will serve, it is hoped, to dispel the fast-gathering tm sts which threaten to enshroud the reputations of some notable, if half-forgotten, Englishmen. The general supervision of the work which, by the way, has been dedicated to the Queen,-has been entrusted to Mr H F Wilson formerly Fellow of Trinity College", Cambridge, and this special numher was edited by Major Hume, whose 'Year After the Armada' established his reputation as a historical writer. The volumes that a<"e to follow will comprise the Cabots, trie quater-centenary of whose sailing f rom Bristol is about to be celebrated there, a3 well as in Canada ; Sir Thomas Maitla'nd the " King Tom " of the' Mediterranean; Admiral Phillip, the founder of New South Wales ; Edward Gibbon Wakefield, the coloniser of South Australia aud New Zealand ; Clive, the founder of Britain's Empire in India ; and Raj*b Brooke of Sarawak.
The excellent address on ' Work and 'Wages' which the Governor of Victoria delivered in May last before the Australian Natives' Association at Fitzroy, and which was published in full in our columns shortly a terwards, ha 3 lo.v been issued in pamphlet form by George Robertson and Co., of Melbourne. In it Lord Brassey goes exhaustively into the relationship 'between wages and the cost of production, and it will be generally conceded, we opine, that no man in these colonies is better qualified than he to pronounce an authoritative opinion on t/ii3 important question.
Many a boy and man has gotten a position because he did not smoke cigarettes or pipes but we have yet to hear of the first one that got a position because he smoked, chewed drank, or gambled. '
ABOUT BOOKS AND BOOKMEN., Issue 10446, 16 October 1897
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