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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 3


page 43


Sir Julius Vogel's novel, A.D. 2000, has received an extraordinary amount of preliminary puffing; and now that it has appeared, extensive extracts are published in the colonial papers. No one need wonder at the difficulty in finding a publisher. The work is almost beneath criticism. Those who remember the author's old financial statements may well wonder what has become of the airy fancy which brightened those official documents. By a curious irony of fate, the man whose budget speeches were brilliantly imaginative, has produced a story as dull as the dreariest of blue-books. The subject of the novel is such as to challenge comparison with The Coming Race and Erewhon, and compared with either of these, it is poor indeed. If the world in the year 2000 should be anything like what Sir Julius Vogel pictures it, we are happier than our descendants can hope to be. The society of the future, apparently, is to be chiefly characterized by conceit, vulgarity, mammon-worship, and a profusion of empty titles.

Mr E. Wakefield, of the Wellington Press, who has gone home on a well-earned holiday, is reported to have with him a MS. colonial novel. Mr Wakefield, as a journalist, has taken the leading place in New Zealand; but his tendency is more to the higher class of literary work than ordinary journalism. If the Press, instead of being a hastily-prepared and shabbily-printed daily, were a crown octavo weekly, printed on fine paper with wide margins, it would rank—as in point of literary matter it already does—with the best English reviews. We hope Mr Wakefield will have better success than his predecessors. Not one New Zealand novel has proved a literary success. Erewhon—a really brilliant work—does not count; for it is not a novel in the ordinary sense, but a politico-social satire. Mr Wakefield has also taken with him a work descriptive of New Zealand. This probably originated in the engagement which the Government entered into with him some months ago, and from which—as is the way of colonial Governments—they withdrew, without any apparent cause. A little book entitled Lays of the Old Identities, by Mr John Blair, of Abbotstford, Otago, has been published by Mr R. T. Wheeler. The book, which we have not seen, is described as being more interesting on account of its subject than of its literary quality.

Mr Gisborne's book on New Zealand (a well-informed correspondent writes), has, despite a somewhat unfashionable publisher, sold uncommonly well, and he is now busy arranging notes, &c., for a second edition. Mr Gisborne's experiences with Mr Petherick have been pleasanter and more profitable than with Messrs Sampson, Low, & Co., who sold out every copy of New Zealand Rulers and Statesmen, and yet presented the astounded and confounded author with an account current showing a balance owing to them of £60. Regarding Picturesque Australasia, the same writer ventures the prediction that « within eighteen months or two years of the date of publication you will be able to buy as many copies as you want, in Booksellers' Row, for two guineas apiece, or even less. »

This is the age of great English dictionaries. Cassell's splendid « Encyclopædic » is just completed after eighteen years' labor in preparation. The magnificent work issued in parts at the Clarendon Press is designed to contain every word, living or obsolete, in English literature, with about a million illustrative quotations. The Century Company, New York, have the electrotype plates well advanced, and will soon begin the issue of a quarto dictionary of 6,500 pages, to occupy six volumes. One hundred persons have been engaged for seven years on the work, under the editorship of Professor Whitney, of Dwight University. The proofs are read by more than sixty people. Our language grows apace. The new edition of the Encyclopœdia Britannica has furnished ten thousand new words for definition!

A correspondent informs us that Bishop Pompallier's Early History of the Catholic Church in Oceania was issued some months ago by a New Zealand firm. There is something very defective in the system of publishing in this colony when a work of such interest can appear and its existence be almost unknown. It is not to be found in the leading bookshops, nor is it in our local public libraries, and though we see nearly every paper published in New Zealand, we have not met with a single announcement of its publication.

Mr John Coombe, of Wellington, a student of Dickens, has been reading Dombey and Son critically, and finds three instances in which Captain Cuttle (who had only one hand, the place of the other being supplied by a hook), is represented as using both hands in ordinary fashion. The Wellington Press is not aware that the strange inconsistency has ever been noted by the thousands of readers of that popular book.

The author of the famous series of articles on « Parnellism and Crime, » is Mr John Wolfe Flannagan, barrister, and son of an Irish Judge. A contemporary says: « He was a notable man at Oxford in his day, and has for some years devoted his whole soul to the consideration of the Irish question, writing much for the papers and reviews on the subject. He is about thirty-six years of age, and decidedly personable in appearance. » He is now on the regular staff of The Times.

Miss Braddon, as is well-known, tried art and the stage without success before she attempted literature. At twenty she wrote her first story, Three Times Dead, which was published at a loss. Lady Audley's Secret was written two years later, and made her fortune—a remarkable work for a woman of twenty-two. Its sale has reached 450,000 copies—a success almost unparalleled. Miss Muloch's John Halifax, popular as it is, has only reached 90,000, and Mrs Henry Wood's East Lynne, 120,000.

An English paper, gossipping about lady journalists in London, says; « Miss Whitman, the niece of the unrhymed American poet, who lives at Roehampton, and boasts of as classic a bust as any woman in London, writes for a New Zealand weekly. »