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ABOUT BOOKS AND BOOKMEN., Issue 10458, 30 October 1897, Supplement
ABOUT BOOKS AND BOOKMEN.
Where the Dead Men Lie, and Other Poems. By Barcroft Boake. Sydney : Angus T , anl Robei t ion. "(Per Wise and Co.) ■lt is a fair thing to make mention of-the excellent appearance of this" bdpk. Good paper, good inkj-jwd good type have been used; the eye of a careful reader has guarded against errors of styleand punctuation; and altogetherthb mechanicalwork of the productiott is highly creditable, -while the thirty-two illustrations by Messrs MaHony,. .Lambert, and Eischer,include several meritorious miniature sketches" worthy to be rapked as works of art. voluminous notes by Mr A. G. Stephens are also valuable, and the same writer has appended a memoir of the author which, though perhaps rather lengthy, is readable throughout and maybe perused with profit by some of our colonial lads. A short extract will indicate what we mean : " Boake bore confinement ill at any time, inheriting from his father a predisposition to melancholy which could only be subdued by physical exer'oise and social excitement. For his tempera-' ment was aluggiah ; he was a dreamer and procrastinator—quick to perceive, slow to. act executing taßk work reluctantly and mechanically; :though "developing plenty of fitful energy when spurred by appropriate stimuli. Of this dreamy habit, apait. from his general: delicacy of constitution, the chief/ cause was a weak, slow-beating heart—often met among children reared in the moist and depressing climate, of Sydney. And Boake further, slowed his slow heart by the excessive use of tobacco. The pipe was never out of his month. In the mountain air of Moharo, and especially when walking or riding a great deal, he ciuld throw off the tobacco lethargy . and appear for the most part cheerful, even gay. But when his body went unexercised his mind immediately overcait. Then he amoked to drive away the blue devils, and every pipeful brought another blue devil to "attack him. . . , Iq effect he waß killed by three things in particular: his sensitive brain, his weak heart, and tobacco; and I am not sure it would be extravagant? to say that the greatest of these was tobacco." In these remarks Mr Stephens reads a aharp lesson as to the need for bracing one's self up and fighting off (he distreasiog and undermining influences wliah ruin many a man who has not Boake's disadvantage of a heart weak to begin with ; and the simple facts related in connection with the poet's ending—aa to his increasing melancholy and the abrupt manner of his voluntary exit from the world by hanging himself from a tree—are sad enough and telling enough to stand without any attempt on our part to enforce plain truths." As to the poems printed in this volume,' several are already familiar, by publication in the | Bulletin' and other New South Wales journals, and these sufficiently indicate the author's style. One of the best examples is ' From the Far West,' which commences—"Tis a song of the Never Never landSet to the tune of a scorchine gale .'-••. On the sandhills red, . When the grasses dead Loudly rustle and bow the head . To' the breath of its dusty hail. In this, as in all Boake's poems, we get one very, satisfactory effect—namely, in regard to local color. Whether he sings of the wind, or the rain, or the bullocks, or the sunshine, or the grass, or the ; men and women;- he invariably describes : Australia. The titles of his poems might be effaced, the proper nouns disguised, and jet the descriptions would hold good. This is one of the chief merits of Boake's poetry. Its variety is also a characteristic. Some verses in this volume are undoubtedly weak, some are faulty ; but alongside these lie the happiest expressions of ideas which may be almost classed as brilliant, and are certainly full of force and originality. , The editor deserves the thanks of the literary woild for making us better acquainted with this versatile and erratio young writer, and we can frankly recommend the volume now before ns, not as fulfilling one's hopes.in regard to colonial poetry, but because it givwa a true of a.raan who became a poet by instinct rather than by education, who fairly got his foot on the ladder of fame, then became dizzy and fell—a man whose successes and whose firial .disasterserve as Useful finger-posts to. our. Southern Cross lads.
Without. Piejudicer.-By I. Zangwill. London : T. Fisher Unwin. (Per Wise and Co.)
Mr Zangwill's nanie is a household word in London and indeed throughout the Empire. We know him.as an observer and as an original thinker, and it is unanimously recognised that in setting down his observa" tion3 and his thoughts, he has~ a most felicitous and unhackneyed method. In 'Without Prejudice' this qualification stands him in good"stead. Trie book is not a novel, therefore there is no. story -to diyert the reader's attention from the author. lb is a seleotion from miscellaneous work that has appeared month by month in the 'Pall Mall Magazine.' Writing of thiß sort requires the closest attention to literary style as well m a large fund of general knowledge, and Mr Zingwill's success stamps him as a. man of the time whose acquaintance"through such a handy medium-as « Without Prejudice' it -is most desirable to make.'
The Dresden Company send for notice a song called 'Young New Zealaud'sNational Hymn,' words and music by Sydney Haw ken As with most local productions of the. same class,-the music is superior to the words, yet the latter may ; pass muster, being neither better nof worse than the average, and the composer's work reveals originality and merit, the tune having a fine bold swing about it and being suppSed with an 'effective accompaniment.
Mr Frank Macmillan, head" of the "wellknown ; London bookselling firm of that name, told; an interviewer the other day that the trade discount of "threepence in the shilling "means ruin to a; great many booksellers, "and that the time, has come when "authors; publishers,'and booksellers, by combining, will be able to reduce the discount from" threepence to twopence,' as be. Out of 789 booksellers, there are 729 who agree to give the smaller discount. As to the remaining sixty, it'is proposed that they shall b9 boycotted, brj if thoy buy books, they will have: to pay suoh a price for them that a'threepenny discount will'be impossible. The outlook is not serious forthe public, but the pew departure will niea'n muph to the bookseller. A large Bristol bookseller was beard to say recently that ho had, within a few days, sold a twelve-and-sixpenny book, and made twopence profit! He was unable, he declared, to keep an assistant, because the ■state of the allowVit'; and he knew therefore large numbers who' were in similar eiro'nmstances; In the case,' tnen, of hundreds t>f"resp«ctable-tya'deainea, a return tp v substantia advantage, It will make all the.
shop 5 it will makV little, if any, difference in the home." - :"~ ■ ■ MriSamiVel £ Vaile has issued in pamphlet form 'Open Letter to/Members of'the Legislature on-tfie Railway Qaestionj "It is: it powerful;appeal fora trial to be given of tho stage system bh'ja" Bcction'of our rail-' ways.-' ''•' ' .' '.' ; : - ';. """ '; •■ 'V;;y. -
. We have to thank the Government Siatistiaian of New South Wales for the statistics" of,.the seven colonies of Australasia from 186Lto 1896 inclusive.. • -
.Messrs Wise and >Co. send us the VWindsop -Magazine''for September, which con-. t? m s the nsjxal. excellent assortment of serialliterature besides, interesting,'' articles' on cycling; Birmingham jewellery, Miss Braddon, the Paris cabmen, and other subjects;' The writer of the article'on cycling s*yß ! V-r-. .. A wpnderfultadvance has been'-, made on speed rates since the introduction off the pneumatic tyre. There must first "be noticed the. famous t ride" from London to John-o'-liroats, undertaken in June, 1873, riders who went on ordinaries fcom Kensington.for an 800 miles' ride due north.* As a. contrast to what can be performed nowadays.ifis both instructive and amusing to show some of the details of this ride. During the first day sixty - five miles were traversed, but more would: have been accomplished had it not been for ram. _ The . second day saw the travellers at Newark ; the third, at WenV bridge; the fourth, at Aberford; the fifth, at Darlington'; the sixth, at Newcastle-on-Tyne; the seventh, at Alnwick ; the eighth, at Dunbar; the ninth, at Edinburgh" the fifteenth, at John-b'-Groat's., That was the pioneer" long-distance ride. How poor it seems when compared with later reoords. In 1895 Mr Neason rode from London to Edm* burgh, a distance of considerably more than 400 miles, in 2?h 38tnin. In the year Mr G. P. Mills rode from Land's End to Jobn-o'-Groat's in just about one-fifth of .the time taken by the four rideis mentioned abDve to do a very much shorter distance. His exact time was 31 5h 49min, The editor of the 'Cyclist' kindly informs me that, the official f°* d reeor ds at the present time are 221 miles in twelve hours, done by Mr G. Hunt, and 402 miles in twenty-four hours.by MrM. A. Holbein. The figures for path records are certainly very interesting. Mr J. Platt-Betts holds the' world's record for the fastest mile, having made the distance in lmin 40aec, with a flying Btart. On the Wednesday of Whit week in this year i 0M Mr J - W> Sr ° okß actually rbdo 324; miles in one hour, a greater speed than that of many passenger trains, and about equal to the speed of-the swiftest Atlantic liners. Mr Platt-Betts also holds the.recprd for the five miles, his time being 9min 4.4-53ec. The only other records which 1 shall put down here are those for the twelve hours' and for the" twenty-four hours' races on the path. The former Te- ; cordis held by Mr G. A. Patterson, 'and the distance he accomplished in the half-day was 288.miles460yards; the latter by Mr C..Huret; who rode ? the almost incredible distance of close upon 560 miles within the limits of one day and one night."
ABOUT BOOKS AND BOOKMEN., Issue 10458, 30 October 1897, Supplement
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