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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 3


page 81


The appearance of a new literary magazine is a notable event in our little world of letters, and press and public alike were prepared to give Zealandia a kindly welcome—though the florid prospectus did promise a little too much, and did not err on the side of modesty. A discerning public scarcely looked for a periodical that would combine the literary ability of the Cornhill in its best days with the artistic excellence of the Century, and the colonial flavor of the Centennial; but they were justified in expecting a magazine that would fairly represent the literary talent of the colony—and they have been disappointed. The first number does not reach the level of the old Southern Monthly, and is in no respect—not even typographically—in advance of the ordinary weekly newspapers of the colony. The compositors' work is very much on the newspaper model; the articles are set in large or small type without any discrimination; and no two headings—whether of articles or departments (except « Chess » and « Draughts » ) are in the same type. In fact, the titles might have been purposely designed to display the great variety of inappropriate jobbing-letter at the disposal of the printer. The lithographed design on the wrapper is a nightmare. On the left a black kauri-pine, on the right a black tree-fern. Beside the tree-fern a moa, ungainliest of extinct birds, black as night. At its feet a broken egg-shell, and at its side a moa-chick or a full-grown kiwi, ill-defined. A sable figure in Maori costume stands near the moa, black feathers in his raven hair, and a black mere in his hand. Behind lies a gloomy lake, and on its farther shore some black objects which may be canoes or saurian monsters. In a valley beyond is something which may be a city, a quarry, or a cemetery. In the remote distance are alps, and a murky sky above, suggestive of Thomas Hood's lines:

Oh then, what black Mont Blancs arose,
Crusted with soot, and not with snows:
What clouds of dingy hue!
In spite of what the bard has penned,
I fear the distance did not lend
Enchantment to the view.

Not Radclyffe's brush did e'er design
Black Forests, half so black as mine,
Or lakes so like a pall;
The Chinese cake dispersed a ray
Of darkness, like the light of Day
And Martin, over all.

The title, in a very ugly lower-case letter, runs across the upper part of the page, the initial Z being left to the imagination. The whole design is crude beyond description. The publisher had far better have followed the established custom of a cover in typography or in wood engraving. A corresponding absence of unity is observable in the literary contents, and editorial advertisements, which should be relegated to the wrapper, crop up everywhere. The opening piece is a rondo, « Bon Voyage, » by Mr Sharpley, followed by an address « To our Readers, » in which a self-gratulatory solo is performed on the editorial horn. The egotistic spirit is displayed more strongly still in « Arrow-heads, » in which after a lofty reference to previous local magazines which have not succeeded, the readers are informed that this one is modelled on the lines that Dickens would have chosen, « had he brought his genius to our shores! » The first instalment is given of the leading serial « The Mark of Cain, » by Owen Graham. It gives promise of being a good story, though the impending catastrophe is perhaps a little too plainly foreshadowed. This is the best thing in the magazine, and is set in the smallest type. A very amorphous and inconsequent paper by the Rev. R. Waddell, « Some Social Responsibilities of a Young Community » is the next item. The writer appears to have been afraid of drifting into a sermon, and therefore shrinks from pointing his moral. The lines of thought go off at all manner of tangents, and the style is painfully jerky, sentences of from one to six words abounding. The passage most likely to be remembered is this: « I agree with those who criticise Henry George as not being sufficiently radical. He objects to private property in land: I object to private property in anything. So does the Bible. » From other parts of the same article it is pretty clear that the rev. gentleman does not hold that Property is Robbery, or that the Eighth and Tenth commandments have been superseded. His underlying thought is apparently based on the New Testament doctrine of stewardship; but he has put the idea in a manner liable to leave a very erroneous impression. Mr Bracken's contribution is an extravaganza in verse, bristling with puns, entitled « Our Pet Kangaroo. » « Wanderings in Lakeland, » a well-written descriptive sketch of the Manapouri, by Malcolm Ross, betrays the practised hand of the journalist. The complete story, « A Helpless Spectator, » by W. P. Reeves, is a « thriller » in the unwholesome style affected by the late Marcus Clarke. Under the head of « New Books, » there are two signed critiques. The first, by one of the staff, reviews a book by the editor. As might be expected, the notice is a flattering one. The other, by the editor, criticises a story which appears to be scarcely worth criticism. The remaining pages—boys' and girls' column, fashions, chess, draughts, &c., are scrappy—just the kind of thing that is already overdone in the weekly press. The most noticeable quality of the articles is the extraordinary self-consciousness of the writers. They adopt an unnatural and constrained style, as if they were upon a stage, and unpleasantly aware that the eyes of their audience were upon them. We would have more hope of future improvement if the editorial staff looked upon their maiden effort with less complaisance. The magazine is printed in Dunedin, but the printer's name does not appear.

Last month we referred to Mr Tregear's paper in the Transactions on « The Knowledge of Cattle among the Ancient Polynesians. » It is another example of this author's transcendental philology, and exhibits enormous labor and research. Few will follow the writer through the maze of Sanskrit, Arabic, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Celtic, Chinese, Malay, and Polynesian words here collected. His object is to prove from the internal evidence of language alone, that in prehistoric times, the ancestors of the Polynesians were acquainted with cattle. He takes half-a-dozen of the commonest syllables, and parallels them with cattle-words in any other language where they approximate. Kai, or the still commoner ka = Scottish kye (this at one fell swoop includes about one-fifth of the Polynesian vocabulary); kau or ngau = cow; po = bos; whaka or waka,=vacca; mu, onomato-poetic, &c. With these materials, and a wonderful power of inference, Mr Tregear has built up a most marvellous edifice. Waka is a canoe: this he connects with the supposed early semi-aquatic habits of cattle, and the custom of the Tartars to cross rivers (the Oxus for example) holding on to the tail of an ox. Waka is also the Polynesian form of bark and barge; and our own word bark (of trees) is the same as the Maori waka on account of its application to similar uses. Rau is a leaf; therefore rau-po and bul-rush, referring to the same plant, are composed of the same primitive elements! The Maori spear kaukau, is so called from having prodded sluggish cows in those prehistoric times when the Maoris were herdsmen. Kau to swim, is from the aquatic habits of ancient kine—or probably from their inflated skins being used as floats.

In Maori a compound word uwha means the female of beasts. Why? U means « teat, » and wha means « four. » What four-teated animals did the Polynesians ever know in Oceania?

Mr John White has given us some curious dissections of Maori words, and some startling etymologies deduced therefrom; but has never reached the height of inspiration which would render « uwha » as « four-teated. » It is as if one should translate « varied fortunes » into « four melodies with variations. » Here is another characteristic extract:

The English etymology of « tale » gives « a number, reckoning, narrative; » Dutch, taal, language, tongue, speech; both from Teutonic tala, a tale, number. In Maori, tau (ta-tau) means to count; so that tau and tara would be forms of √ taur, and the original idea « mustering » or counting cattle. The Sanskrit tara « a spell for banishing demons » (Benfey), =Maori tara, to influence by charms. The Maori pu-tatara (or putara, also pu-tetere), a « trumpet, » compares with Old Dutch tateren, to sound with a shrill noise, to taratantara with a trumpet (Hexham);—

Mr Tregear might have strengthened his argument by adding that in Irish tradition tara is also associated with the sound of another ancient instrument: « the harp, that once through tara's halls the soul of music shed. » He says, moreover:

A curious fact in connexion with tara is that this word is used as denoting « a fable » (korero tara). Perhaps the stories of the elders respecting the taura or tara—impossible creatures, as the new generation of islanders began to believe—made all fabulous narratives be called tara.

By a most extraordinary oversight, Mr T. does not adduce the significant (and evidently allied) word « tara-diddle: » tara = a fable; diddle, to deceive or beguile. In following our author through his devious wanderings, we never feel that we are on firm ground, and we cannot but regret that so much ingenuity and research has been devoted to a korero tara.

The Dean of Christchurch has received information from home that his History of the New Zealand Church will appear on 12th October next.

The sale of the library of the Duke of Buccleuch is notable in the history of book-sales. The first day's sales amounted to over £100,000—the largest result on record for a single day.

Mr C. C. Roe, a well-known wood-engraver of Louisville, Ky., has a novel entitled Deceived in the hands of the printers. It will be profusely and finely illustrated with cuts by the author's own hand. Mr Roe is a nephew of the late Rev. E. P. Roe, who read the MS. before his death.

A manuscript copy of the Gospels, for which the price of £5000 has been refused, is about to come under the hammer in London. It is the splendid Evangelarium, written in letters of gold on purple vellum, which was produced by an Anglo-Saxon scribe for Archbishop Wilfrid of York about the year 670.

page 82

A copy of the Gutenberg ( « Mazarine » ) Bible was lately found in the library of Lord Hope-toun when the books were being catalogued for sale—its existence there being previously unknown. Some of the leaves of vol. ii were injured; but it was otherwise a very fine copy. It was bought by Mr Quaritch for £2,000. During the past fifteen years three other copies of this book have been sold—the Perkins copy, £2,690; the Systar Park (Sir J. Thorold's), £3,900; Lord Crawford's, £2,650. It is reported that a Yankee tourist in Mexico lately discovered a copy of this precious work in a second-hand shop, and purchased it for a few dollars.

To a brother in the craft in Buenos Aires, we are indebted for some more copies of the excellent fortnightly illustrated paper El Sud-Americano. Its illustrations are produced by one of the modern processes—probably zinc-etching, and are exceedingly good, though making no attempt to emulate the almost microscopic detail attained in the American style of art. Much attention is paid to the history and antiquities of South America. One of the most striking sketches in the numbers to hand represents some of the extraordinary vegetable growths of Peru. The scene is in the Valle de Ayacucho, and in the foreground are seen an immense aloe and a group of giant cacti, some apparently fifty feet in height, and of singularly grotesque forms; while the background represents the effects of geological denudation in the form of mighty pyramids and obelisks of rock.

The Dominion Illustrated is a Canadian weekly, now in its second year, copies of which have been sent us by Mr John Haddon, the English agent. Considered either from a literary or artistic standpoint, this paper takes a very high rank, and is exceedingly creditable to Messrs Desbarats & Son, Montreal, the publishers. No such admirably printed newspaper has yet appeared in the Australian colonies—in fact the press-work and paper is superior to those of the two great London illustrated weeeklies. The illustrations are produced by an exceedingly delicate process, requiring the finest press-work, and full justice is done to them in the working. The reviews are judicious and ably-written, and the periodical is one of permanent interest and value.

The Christchurch Church News states that the new edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern contains a contribution by a New Zealand writer. The hymn beginning « Return, O Wanderer, to thy Home, » was written (with the exception of the first verse) by the Rev. A. G. Purchas, of Auckland, in 1886. The first verse is taken from the New Zealand Hymnal.

The Cromwell Argus has no sympathy with Sir W. Buller in the loss of his books in the Maitai. It says: « We add our opinion that in having to bear the loss, Sir Walter Buller is served rightly for the barbarously ignorant idea of destroying the plates; this having been done to keep the books at a fictitious price and, therefore, out of the reach of common people. »

Criminal informations for libel having been laid by H. G. G. Hanking against James Wilkie, editor, and W. Hall, publisher of the Reefton Guardian, the cases came before the R.M. on July 19. The information against Mr Hall was dismissed, but Mr Wilkie was committed for trial to the Supreme Court, bail being allowed—the accused in £300, and two sureties in £100 each.

It is gravely asserted by the Detroit Free Press that at a town in Nebraska the people are so short of Bibles that the local paper, at the urgent request of the inhabitants, published the Ten Commandments for their guidance.