Other formats

    Adobe Portable Document Format file (facsimile images)   TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The Spike or Victoria University College Review June 1925

Our Book Column

page 39

Our Book Column

" And if I found in the story afterward, any of them by word or deed breaking that oath, I judged it the same fault of the poet as that which is attributed to Homer, to have written indecent things of the Gods."


Many new books have reached us this session from the publishers, and quite a number are distinctly to be recommended. Limitations of space, however, forbid mention of more than a few.

"My Garden of Dreams" (Whitcombe and Tombs), is not, as one might imagine on first sighting the title page, a volume of poems on Free Love, by W. E. Leicester or C. Q. Pope; but it is a treatise on methods of gardening by P. Martin-Smith. The author was, until recently, an extremely well-known public figure, but a short while ago he retired voluntarily from public life, and is devoting his days to the cultivation of young flowers. (It is not stated what his nights are devoted to). More of our politicians might with advantage, we think, follow the author's example when a useful career is drawing to a close, and spend the remainder of their life in a garden or nursery.

A remarkable series of reminiscent essays is to be found in "An Unfinished Diary." Messrs. Mills and Boon, the publishers, are to be congratulated on the publication of this book, which bids fair to become as popular as those of that other brilliant writer for whom they published "The Gentleman with a Duster."Like "The Gentleman," too, the author of "An Unfinished Diary," possesses a strain of genuine modesty; for below the title appear simply the initials "R.M.C.," followed by a well-known sentence of Montaigne's: "I have gathered a posie of other men's flowers, and nothing but the thread that binds them is mine own." Notable chiefly for the graceful and picturesque style in which they are written, the essays disclose some of the many-sided activities of a strenuous life. Next to the metaphorical innuendo, R.M.C.'s favourite method of expression is Scriptural allusion, and the book closes with a stirring reference to the incident where Joshua and his army marched seven times around Jericho blowing their trumpets, upon which the walls of that venerable city immediately collapsed. On more than one occasion in his personal experiences, the author tells us, has he encircled some stronghold of ancient belief not seven times, but once only, blowing his own trumpet, and the weakly-resisting walls have tumbled down. The book is tastefully bound, and reflects credit in every respect on both writer and publisher.

J. C. Beaglehole is a well-known explorer, whose spare moments are devoted to the pursuit of literary criticism, and his latest volume, "Mightier than the Sword," tells chiefly of his adventures in the realm of letters. Several references are made, however, to his more realistic adventures on hill and mountain-side, and one incident is worth relating here. The great explorer was once traversing a precipitous ridge with an almost sheer descent page 40 on either side when, in battling against the wind, he missed his footing and fell for over a hundred feet in a manner dramatically described in his new book. Little harm was done except for several rather painful abrasions to the seat of his trousers and that region of his anatomy immediately concealed thereby, and he was able to continue his journey unassisted. Many years later the author, who is a pious man, erected a cairn at the spot where the accident took place, bearing this simple inscription: "There's a Divinity doth shape our ends, rough hew them how we will."

Others must be mentioned more briefly. "From Office Boy to K.C." is in the form of a novel by a writer using the nom-de-plume of "Birkenhead Secundus." It reads like an autobiography, and the name of a former Victoria College student has been mentioned in connection with the authorship. But that is, we suppose, his own affair.

In biographical strain also is "Over the Footlights," by I. L. Hjorring, a famous singer of the last century who scored a brilliant success in his early twenties. He takes strong exception in the preface to a principle laid down by Galli-Curci that the habit of riding in motor cars instead of walking is fatal to the singing voice.

"Machiavelli—An Appreciation," is a series of lectures given under the auspices of the Workers' Educational Association of Taranaki by a former student of this College. They cast an entirely new light on Machiavelli and the ultimate good that mankind must reap from the labours of his life.

"A New Clue to the Economic Labyrinth," by F. A. Ruck, author of the famous "Spiritual Significance of Money," is a careful exposition of the evangel of Commerce. We would wish, however, that our author, who, as the founder of that wonderful organisation, the Order of the Cult of the Golden Calf, must have decided views on many subjects, were a little less diffident, a trifle more positive, in his assertions. It is difficult at times to arrive at exactly what his opinions are.

"My Favourite Saints," by R. F. Fortune, is very edifying in the wealth of its simple piety. But simple as Mr. fortune may be, his words ring like a deep-toned bell calling men to worship. His is a book that should set Apollyon to wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Mr. J. Brook, the noted humorist, entertains us again in "High Life Below Stairs" and "Sorties." What winning ways this writer must possess to evoke the garrulities he recounts of youth and maidens! Youth in revelation, youth in unrestraint —ah, would we were young again, that we might pass before so sympathetic an observer!

"Essays in Agitation" appears to be the result of collaboration, for the initials J.B.Y., G.A.N., and H.J.V.J. are appended to the different sections of the book. It is with alarm that we anticipate its effect upon the "red" element in our 'Varsity; the authors, we must admit, are positively brilliant in their iconoclastic treatment of the present imperfect system of distribution, which has made such a niggard allotment of initials to them.

* Not to be confused with Liber, of the Reptile Press.