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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 3


page 145


Cassells have completed their fine Picturesque Australasia by the issue of the fourth volume. The work is not so costly as to be beyond the reach of the ordinary buyer; and both on literary and artistic grounds it reflects great credit on the publishers. A large share of the fourth volume (as with its predecessors) is devoted to New Zealand. The first article, « A Trip to Mount Cook, » is by the editor, Professor E. E. Morris, m.a.; Mr W. Gay writes on « The Maori Wars, » « Sir George Grey, » « Some New Zealand Ports, » and « Maori Legends; » Mr W. Waite gives an account of the coach journey from Napier to Auckland, and an anonymous Aucklander gives a very good description of the city of the north. Mr Waite murders Maori names in spelling and pronunciation—he not only gives incorrect directions as to the pronunciation, but adds that he is « not responsible for the anti-phonetic spelling. » Mr Waite should know that—thanks to the good-sense of the early missionaries, who reduced the language to writing—all native names are phonetically spelt. In the article on the ports, Napier, Gisborne, Wanganui, Nelson, Akaroa, and others are described. The Western Spit and bridge, which would have more appropriately illustrated Mr Waite's article, where they are referred to, are here shown. The view of Napier—an unusual one—is, strangely enough, taken from almost the same point as that selected by Mr Schell, for the Picturesque Atlas. It is impossible to obtain a general view, but this, while possessing no particular artistic recommendation, shows the merest corner of the city, and very little of the fine curve of the bay, which Mr Gay, like many others, compares to that of Naples, adding, however, that « it has none of the dirt, disease, and poverty of the classic city. Of all the towns in both hemispheres Napier is one of the neatest and cleanest, one of the most cheerful and well-to-do. » High praise, and not undeserved. Mr Gay is wrong in crediting « the municipality)) with naming the streets after the poets. This was done long ago by Alfred Domett the poet—

The honest Nelson man
Who christened Napier and shaped her plan
Who when he lived in her fought in her van
For justice and freedom and rights of man.

—as a local rhymer wrote in the local paper just one-and-thirty years ago. The municipality—after the manner of such bodies—lias departed from the original plan, and have given the new streets a medley of incongruous names which they some day will have to alter. It is a shame to the town that it has not a Domett-street. There is a pretty little engraving of St. Paul's Presbyterian Church, taken from Mr Tiffen's beautiful garden. The view of Nelson is not from a very favorable point, and makes the city look much smaller than it really is.

As a genuine colonial story, by one who really knows something of Australia, Mr E. W. Hornung's « Jim of the Whim, » in the Summer Number of the Pictorial World, takes high rank. No less striking are the illustrations. They are true in every detail to the country life of the colonies. In the signature « S. Begg, » we recognise the name of a Napier friend, a native-born colonist, who from his childhood exhibited remarkable artistic gifts, and who is now on the regular staff of the Pictorial World.

Zealandia for December is better than the previous numbers. The Mark of Cain shows skill in development. It is, however, a mistake to give a reference to an actual newspaper of recent date, as it quite destroys the Illusion which it is the object of a writer to maintain. « A Christmas Flood » is overdone. Nothing less than the diversion of a large river into the creek described could have produced such an inundation as the author describes. « A typical New Zealand stream » is not subject to such tremendous freshets. « Led by a Child, » by the editor, is about the best short story that has yet appeared. There is just a touch of unreality about the motto at the end. It is the fashion for a storyteller to make psychological studies of his neighbors; but common folk do not subject themselves to the process. An anonymous correspondent from Invercargill writes sensibly advocating the retention of native local names. The editor annotates his contributors' articles to express his dissent from their conclusions—an unusual proceeding, to say the least. The remainder of the magazine is « padding » of the ordinary newspaper stamp.

From the Government Printer we have received a copy of one of the most interesting as well as the most valuable works yet issued by the Government of this colony—the Forest Flora of New Zealand. The book is foolscap folio, and like all Mr Didsbury's productions, is well and correctly printed. All our varied forest trees and shrubs are minutely described and illustrated; the native and vulgar names are given, the properties and uses are set forth in popular language as well as in the ordinary scientific style. The plates number one hundred and forty-two, and are chiefly executed by the draftsmen of the Survey Department. Most of them are signed by Mr Hugh Boscawen, and reflect great credit on his skill as a botanical artist. We notice other names of the survey staff, as well as those of Mr A. Hamilton of Napier, and Mr D. Blair. The work is written and compiled by Mr T. Kirk, f.l.s., and is highly creditable to the author. The contents might have been more systematically arranged, as we find closely-allied species widely separated, altogether alien forms coming in between. The illustrations as a rule are excellent, but being by different hands exhibit a want of uniformity. Some are fully shaded; others in almost pure outline. In an appendix the plants are systematically classified, and to have followed this arrangement in the body of the work would have been an improvement. A comparative table at the end showing at one view the particulars scattered through the work as to strength, specific gravity, &c, of the various woods, would have been an acceptable addition. We would be sorry to criticise so excellent and valuable a work in any spirit of faultfinding. A limited number, we believe, were printed on large paper. It would have been well to have issued a number for sale, as the narrow margin to some of the plates will not be pleasing to book-lovers.

The Auckland Weekly News Christmas number is a fine specimen of journalistic enterprise. It consists of sixty pages, and in addition to the news of the week contains more pages of literary matter than we care to count. A colored lithograph supplement « The Advent of the Maori » is presented with the number, and is a capital illustration of a familiar Maori myth. It is, however, a little too bad, and very misleading, to treat this pretty story as authentic, and to add the date « Christmas, A.D. 1000. » The date of the first appearance of the Maori in New Zealand is prehistoric.

Stanley has sold the MS. of his diary to a London publisher for £40,000. The London publisher must be a man of mighty faith.

We have received the first number of the Transatlantic, a literary paper published at Boston, and printed in the facsimile Elzevir type of the Dickinson Foundry, which gives it a peculiar appearance. There is nothing original about the contents; as the editor says: « It journeys into foreign lands, and says 'Give us of your best.'e….It has no opinions of its own. It gives voice to the opinions of all the great thinkers of the worlde…. It mirrors a continent. It knows the value of its reflections. » It is, in fact, simply a literary privateer, and could only exist in a country where there is no proper law of copyright. Its articles are good, which is not surprising. The burglar who fills his « swagi » with crockery and leaves the silver plate does not understand his business. The editor of the Transatlantic knows his. We notice that he does not meddle with English literature, but selects foreign authors for spoliation.

Few newspaper men are likely to dispute the claim of the Pekin Gazette (established in the time of William the Conqueror) to be the oldest newspaper in the world. The position of editor was attended with considerable risk, as, in round numbers, nineteen hundred occupants of the editorial chair have suffered decapitation. Yet the perquisites attaching to the office were so inviting, that it was always in eager request. A file of this paper would afford very interesting reading; but it seems that the office file is unfortunately imperfect. An advertisement appeared in a recent issue of the Gazette offering a handsome bonus for a copy of one of the issues of the year 1498, in which a long account appeared of the discoveries made by Christopher Columbus on the other side of the Pacific. The account filtered across from Western Europe by way of court gossips and couriers, entirely by word of mouth, and it is rather astonishing, considering the slow rate of travelling in those days, that the Gazette could have been so early in the field with the news. The account is said to be extremely interesting, and rather highly colored.

According to the Athenæum, an interesting discovery has been made in India—nothing less than the lost books of Euclid, of which a Sanskrit translation is said to have been found at Jeypore. Mr H. H. Dhruva, delegate of H. H. the Gaekwar, is to read a paper on the subject before the eighth International Congress of Orientalists at Stockholm.