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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 4 (August 1, 1933)

Among The Books. — A Literary Page or Two

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Among The Books.
A Literary Page or Two

Of course you have all read of Macaulay's New Zealander, he who, “in the midst of a vast solitude is to take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of Saint Paul's.” It appears that some super-critical investigators are out to spoil this free advertisement for New Zealand by suggesting that the passage was plagiarised by Macaulay. These nosey littérateurs have burrowed into the writings of those who lived before Macaulay to dig up several excerpts which, they claim, by all the laws of literary consanguinity, show a strong blood relationship to Macaulay's famous passage.

The following quotation from a letter of Horace Walpole, written before Macaulay was born is quoted as evidence: “At last some curious traveller from Lima will visit England and give a description of the ruins of Saint Paul's like the editions of Balbec and Palmyra.” Certainly there is a strong resemblance, but personally I prefer the picturesque eloquence of Macaulay, and above all his gratuitous advertisement to the Dominion.

* * *

The fine old journalist, Mr. R. A. Loughnan, has a ready wit. I remember a few years ago he was proposing a toast at a gathering of Wellington pressmen. He was relating some political facts “from the inside.” Suddenly he halted, and looking around with counterfeit anxiety, asked: “I hope there are no reporters present!”

* * *

I had a letter recently from William Moore, the well-known Australian art and literary critic, in which he made some flattering remarks about the quality of this journal. I am not too modest, also, to mention that he commented favourably on this literary page, and incidentally made this very true observation: “I have long come to the conclusion that if you interest the public in the writers and artists themselves it will become interested in their work.”

* * *

There have been a number of inquiries as to the origin of my pen-name, “Shibli Bagarag.” “Shibli” is a leading and romantic figure in George Meredith's great work “The Shaving of Shagpat.” By profession he was a barber, so that the Te Kuiti reader who wrote suggesting that my nom de plume sounded like a new brand of shaving cream was not far wrong.

* * *

A Sydney correspondent tells me that Eric Ramsden, a well known New Zealand journalist, now on the staff of the Sydney “Morning Herald,” is giving valuable publicity for the Dominion by writing articles on New Zealand subjects for the Saturday supplement. He wrote one on the Waitangi Residency, and reproduced the earliest sketch of it by Lieutenant Thomas Woore, of H.M.S. “Alligator.” It depicts the original place, the home of James Busby, in 1834. Dora Wilcox also does her bit. She has lectured on Maori legends at the Sydney Lyceum Club and elsewhere. At the June meeting of the Australian English Association, she read a paper on Samuel Butler and the early literature of Canterbury. Her grandfather came out on one of the four ships, and as a girl she heard much about the early scribes and collected some of the early volumes.

* * *

Editorial Eavesdroppings.

It is possible that a Wellington syndicate may revive “The Triad,” running it on the lines adopted years ago by C. N. Baeyertz and the late Frank Morton.

Mr. Marcus Marks has completed the manuscript of his stories and reminiscences, and may publish these in book form in Australia.

Another book of reminiscences, in this case dealing with the war, may also be published in Australia. The author, Mr. C. A. L. Treadwell, O.B.E., is familiar to readers of this magazine.

“Cheerful Yesterdays,” by the late Mr. Justice Alpers, has already resulted in a profit of over £2,000 to the widow of the author.

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Certainly the most interesting event in the publishing world in New Zealand has been the recent appearance of the second edition of Mr. T. Lindsay Buick's “The Treaty of Waitangi.” Although, from a collector's point of view the first edition, which is now keenly sought after at book sales, will continue to bring big prices, the second edition is a necessary addition to all library shelves. Many new and important facts have been added to the original edition. In the words of Mr. Buick: “Much water has run under the bridge since the book was originally written. Additional information has been made available, and older facts now appear in a new perspective. In these circumstances, as the story stands substantially as it was first told, it has been possible to garnish the text with some more recently discovered details; some historical puzzles have been solved, and some re-adjustments have been made which bring the facts more clearly into line with historical facts.”

The appearance of the second edition appropriately follows the generous action of Their Excellencies the Governor-General and Lady Bledisloe in purchasing and presenting to the Dominion the historic house, which had formerly been the British Residency, at the Bay of Islands, together with the estate whereon the treaty was signed. The book is dedicated to Their Excellencies.

In his characteristic, clear, graphic style, Mr. Buick tells us the romantic story of the events preceding the signing, the event itself, and subsequent happenings. With his meticulous sense of historical investigation, he gives us the story of this most notable chapter in our Island history. After reading it one cannot but acclaim the richly deserved honour recently conferred on the author by His Majesty the King.

To the book-lover, the volume must have an instant appeal. Splendidly bound and printed, its excellently printed plates, all encased in an artistic and imposing jacket, the book will be placed with pride in every library of account here and abroad. The publishers and printers, Thomas Avery and Sons Ltd., New Plymouth, have made a worthy production of a notable work. The price of the volume is £1 at leading bookshops.

* * *

“Tides of Youth,” by Nelle M. Scanlan (Jarrold's, London) is a splendid sequel to “Pencarrow,” being the further adventures of the Pencarrow family. The story is full of New Zealand life and colour and carries on the history of the family up to the close of the Great War. “Pencarrow” proved to be one of the Dominion's best sellers, and in point of compelling interest, the sequel should promote further big sales. Miss Scanlan has met with such success that it is easy to predict that the history of the Pencarrows will form the basis of a third novel.

“Jacka's Mob,” by E. J. Rule, M.C.M.M. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney), contains the war memoirs of a young Victorian farmer who appears to have sampled most of the big fighting from Gallipoli to the final engagement of his battalion. A vivid story. John Masefield has written the introduction. Price 6/- at leading bookshops.

* * *

“Stories by ‘Kodak’” (Endeavour Press, Sydney), are the collected stories of Ernest O'Ferrall, one of Australia's greatest humorists. “Kodak” is dead these last several years, but his stories will always live in Australian literature. Endeavour Press has done a great work in issuing for the first time the cream of his work. The accompanying illustrations by Low are a delight. The book sells at 5/-.

* * *

“Art in New Zealand.” (Harry H. Tombs Ltd., Wellington). The June number completes the fifth year of publication—a fine record of service to New Zealand art and literature. Two fine colour plates, twelve plates in black and white, and excellent letterpress make the latest issue well up to the standard of its predecessors.

Timber Shortage.

During the British House of Commons Forestry Debate, November 20, 1929, the following statement was made:—“There are to-day actually only four countries left in the whole wide world which are meeting their own timber requirements. They are Russia, Canada, the Scandinavian Peninsula, and Poland. Most of Russia's supplies are inaccessible, Scandinavia necessarily restricts cutting in accordance with production. Poland's supplies are very limited, and Canada's forests are not likely to be more than sufficient for her own and part of U.S.A.'s requirements in the near future.” It is obvious, therefore, that the softwood forests established by N.Z. Perpetual Forests, Ltd., are going to be very valuable when ready for realisation in the near future.*

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