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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 4

Literature

page 45

Literature

Literature in New Zealand—outside of occasional contributions of a high order of excellence to the newspaper press—is almost non-existent. And this notwithstanding a continual production of pamphlets, essays, and latterly attempts at novels. Not one good novel has yet been published by a new Zealand writer, and but one poem; the latter so metaphysical as to be above the heads of most readers. The stories in a recently-started magazine, professedly colonial, are almost without exception rubbish,—a medley of old material with a few local names thrown in. Of local color there is not a trace, and the imaginary natives introduced are unlike any people who ever dwelt on the face of the earth. It is therefore with pleasure that we notice that an attempt has been made, with considerable success, to provide a really high-class literary monthly. So modest is the attempt, and accompanied with so little flourish of trumpets, that the magazine is not nearly so well known as it should be. We refer to the Monthly Review, edited by Mr J. R. Blair, and published by Lyon & Blair, Wellington, which has lately completed its first volume, and of which the first three numbers of the second volume are now before us.

Our readers are aware that about eighteen months ago a singular and short-lived magazine appeared in Wellington, bearing the title of Hestia. Of this, the Monthly Review is the lineal successor; and we regret that it does not bear a more attractive and suggestive title. Under the capable management of Mr Blair, it has developed into a really valuable magazine—the best, we believe, that the colony so far has produced. Its appearance merits a word of praise. Printed in leaded long primer on royal octavo, the page is handsome, the style being simple almost to severity. The titles of the articles are in plain pica caps, and the only decoration consists of varied and judiciously-chosen head- and tail-pieces. It is, in fact, both outside and in, a book, and is got up accordingly. The January number opens with an article on dreams, and some of the peculiar phenomena connected with them. Dr Newman gushes on « The Birth of a Nation in Australasia » (the federation cry again)—an anticipation which may perhaps be realized when the time shall have come to which Mr Bellamy has been « Looking Backward. » Capt. W. E. Gudgeon and Lieut-Col. McDonnell each contribute a series of articles on Maori history and habits and on the incidents of the war. Both these gentleman are well acquainted with the modern (and degenerate) Maori; but he is marvellously different from the aboriginal as the missionaries found him. Both these writers fall into the common error of treating Maori myths and allegories, handed down from their wise men of old, as historical. In the later numbers we find, among much other valuable matter, an article on « United Italy » by Mr George Robertson, « A Pioneer in Telegraphy » (Edward Davy) by Mr G. B. Davy. Mr Davy holds, and produces correspondence to prove, that his relative had a larger share in the invention of the electric telegraph than is generally credited to him. To the March number, Edith H. Searle, M.A., contributes a thoughtful article on « The Motive Forces of Life, » disputing the common theory that the pursuit of happiness is the sole motive of action. « Happiness, » she says, « is undoubtedly a tremendous force in the world, probably the largest of all. It is not the noblest, and has more than its due share of attention already; but it is not the ideal aim. » There are original poems in the number before us—some of more than average merit. The typographical arrangement is unexceptionable, except in two respects—the index to volume i is headed « Contents, » and the department headed « The Bookshelf » is headed and composed in the style of an advertisement, and is out of keeping with the rest of the matter. We hope that the Review will extend in popularity and usefulness.

The London correspondent of the Dunedin Star writes:— « Mr E. A. Petherick, of the Colonial Book Agency (33 Paternoster Bow), is preparing for publication a 'Bibliography of New Zealand.' The first thing of the kind ever attempted was the appendix to Thomson's 'Story of New Zealand.' A few years ago Mr James Davis produced a more comprehensive list, and issued it in the form of a 12mo volume. Sir George Grey compiled a fairly complete list (particularly of Maori publications) in his catalogue of the library presented by him to Cape Colony; and there was another list of a more systematic kind in the huge catalogue of Mr S. W. Silver's library at York Gate, prepared by Mr Petherick himself; but the present bibliography will be of a far more complete and comprehensive character than anything that has hitherto appeared. The work will be of inestimable value to collectors, and it will further demonstrate the truth as to New Zealand's pre-eminence over the other colonies from a literary point of view. » — The writer does not appear to be acquainted with the valuable and comprehensive bibliography lately prepared by Mr Collier. From the accurate and painstaking record in Mr Petherick's Torch, it is evident that he is well fitted for the work he has taken in hand; but we imagine that Mr Collier has nearly exhausted the field.

Mrs A. T. Winthrop has brought out a new edition of « Wilfred, » a little book published in 1880. The chief interest attaching to the book arises from a letter to the Pall Mall Gazette by the author, in which she accuses Mrs Burnett of plagiarism. She says that she sent that lady a copy of the first edition, and that when « Little Lord Fauntleroy » appeared she found it to be the very counterpart of her own story. We have not read « Wilfred, » but if the coincidences are not greater than in the following passages quoted by Mrs Winthrop, there is not much ground for the charge:—

He had been carefully dressed by James in a suit of creamy white flannel, with scarlet silk stockings and a Roman ribbon tied under the broad linen collar.— Wilfred.

Mary hurried him upstairs and put on his best summer suit of creamy-colored flannel, with the red scarf around his waist, and combed out his curly locks.— Little Lord Fauntleroy.

Mrs Burnett replies in St James's Gazette to Mrs Winthrop's charge. « I have, » she says, « one confession to make. There is one person to whom I am slavishly indebted for all that Fauntleroy is; but for that person the book never would (and never could) have been written. When it occured to me to write it he was a small man of seven, with the sunniest sweetest nature that ever made brighter a little fellow's beauty. There is not a speech of Fauntleroy's which is not a plagiarism of his quaintness. He had an English mother whom it was his pretty habit to call 'Dearest,' and he had been born and had lived in America. It was his guileless frank freedom of manner, his entire friendliness with every human thing, and his delightful little excited political interests, which suggested to me the idea of contrasting an innocent small Republican with an English class entirely opposite in type. Every day he unconsciously wrote Fauntleroy for me: and for all that is sweet, all that is childishly brave and loving, all that speaks from the pure, generous, unspoiled heart of a child, I must thank him alone, and so must every one who has been touched by the little story. If I had not plagiarised from life, Cedric would not have lived. »

« Echoes from the Oxford Magazine » is a collection of the parodies and bright epigrams of university men during the past few years. Mr Raper, in the character of the batsman, thus cleverly imitates Whitman:

To play more steadily than a pendulum; neither hurrying nor delaying, but marking the right moment to strike.

To slog:

The utter oblivion of all but the individual energy:

The rapid co-operation of hand and eye projected into the ball:

The ball triumphantly flying through the air, you too flying.

The perfect feel of a fourer!

The hurrying to and fro between the wickets: the marvellous quickness of all the fields:

The cut, leg hit, forward drive, all admirable in their way;

The pull transcending all pulls over the boundary ropes, sweeping, orotund, astral:

The superciliousness of standing still in your ground, content, and masterful, conscious of an unquestioned six;

The continuous pavilion-thunder bellowing after each true lightning stroke;

(And yet a mournful note, the low dental murmur of one who blesses not I fancied I heard through the roar

In a lull of the deafening plaudits;

Could it have been the bowler? or one of the fields?)

Here is the often-quoted but anonymous sketch of Mr Andrew Lang:

You ask me, Fresher, who it is
Who rhymes, researches, and reviews,
Who sometimes writes like Genesis,
And sometimes for the Daily News:
Who jests in words that angels use,
And is most solemn with most slang:
Who's who—who's which—and which is whose?
Who can it be but Andrew Lang?

The boatman has been « done » before; but never much better than by Mr Fagan of Queen's:—

A Schipman was there eke, a bote captain
that wolde souffre mochel toil and payne
teachand the fresche clerkes howe to rowe;
thise straunge cries bin all to him y know
which that they usen by the stremes brinke,
and in the race a belle he wolde clinke,
ther was no clerke colde more noise make;
he was a right schipman, I undertake.
But if to souper you schulde bidde him come
he spak no mo than as if he were dumbe,
he woldè nothinge do but drinke and ete,
for of his talkinge he was ful discrete.

An agitation is an foot in France to introduce phonetic spelling. The opposition is based on the same grounds as in England. A French paper asks the innovators, « How will they establish any difference between ver, verre, vert, vers, vair, which will, each and all, according to their method, be written ver? » The reply is evident—that there will be no more confusion than in the spoken language. To distinguish shades of meaning by differences in spelling is a clumsy device. To it we owe such forms as borne, forme, tyre, vyce, vise, pi, pye, storey, kerb, skate, chute, and schnapper. The first of these usage has established—all the rest are wrong.

page 46

Mr Stead's Review of Reviews is to magazine literature what Public Opinion is to the newspaper press. The idea of a general index to the reviews is a useful and practical one; but it would never pay, hence the editor picks the plums from each—a proceeding to which some of the publishers strongly object. The typography of the Review of Reviews is mean and shabby.

We congratulate the Hawera Star, a well-printed and well-edited country paper, on the completion of its tenth year. It has had one experience which every successful newspaper must expect. It says: « For the first time we are called upon to face what our friends speak of as a local opposition paper, but which we prefer to regard as a fellow-worker in the public interests. » So long as the Star is conducted as it is at present, it is not likely to suffer materially from fair competition.

Mr W. E. Simpson, formerly of New Plymouth, has brought the controlling interest in the San Diego Sun, and after a year's experience finds the venture a very profitable, one. He has great faith in the future of the city. He says: « We have the best landlocked harbor on the coast, with never less than 36 feet on the bar. Upon the completion of the Nicaragua Canal we shall soon outgrow even San Francisco, as we are the nearest port, and all goods from the East will be delivered here in preference to being carried by rail. This will make us the distributing point. Already a line has been established to run between here and New York, by way of the Horn, so that when the time comes they will at once be in a position to extend their trade. »

Since our last issue went to press, we have received No 1 of the Worker, the new organ of the Brisbane labor unions. It is a monthly, 16 pages the size of Typo, three columns to the page, printed in brevier. It eschews advertisements, and guarantees a circulation of 14,000. It is well and ably edited—its chief fault being that it quotes somewhat freely from discreditable « society » papers, whose advocacy of the labor cause is a mere matter of dollars, and will do it more harm than active opposition. The Worker publishes the first instalment of Bellamy's Looking Backward, and looks forward to an ideal socialistic paradise when the State shall be the sole proprietor of property and organizer of energy; and in which at the same time « individualism finds unlimited scope. » The bees have probably come nearest to this ideal; but they have not yet reached the stage of universal peace. There are still wars and strifes among them, and communities subsisting by robbery and brigandage; and the periodical slaughter of the drones, on purely economic grounds, seems to be a necessity of socialism. Our forecast as to the difficulties of editing a paper with a communal proprietory is justified in the very first number. Reference is made to the action of the N. S. W. Typographical Association in arbitrarily excluding a female compositor from membership, and the editor has not the courage to express his opinion on the subject, which would inevitably offend the society, and bring a hornets' nest about his ears. We are glad to see that Queensland has at last an accredited and respectable organ of the great labor party, and we wish it every success.