« PreviousContinue »
note of the population and area, and a few other details.
At page 188
the population of the globe is distributed according to races. An ethnologist might take exception to this distribution and to the word "race" as applied here; but it is sufficient for a treatise on Geography, and runs as follows:
The treatise is up to date, and worthy of the fin de siècle. I place by its side on my table Arrowsmith's "Compendium of Ancient and Modern Geography" prepared for the use of Eton College in 1831, two years before I entered that school; it was considered a prodigy of knowledge then, and it is illustrated by the accompanying Eton atlas. Let us speak reverently and gently of our predecessors seventy years ago, hoping that our descendants in the years preceding A.D. 2000 will do the same to us of this generation. R. N. CUST.
KEGAN PAUL, TRENCH, TRÜBNER AND CO., LTD.; LONDON.
14. British Africa (British Empire Series). This is a comprehensive and interesting book, which perhaps naturally devotes more consideration to our newer and healthier possessions in the south and east than to the old though commercially valuable settlements on the deadly "West Coast." Still, it again makes plain the fact that white men can successfully colonize the south, while the Guinea shore will probably remain a black man's land. Various well-qualified writers set forth the history of southern Africa from its discovery by Diaz and misrule by the Dutch East India Company to the Boers' great trek, and later the opening up of Rhodesia and Uganda, as well as the physical features of the different territories. Some of the articles almost of necessity overlap; but although space forbids the mention of each in detail the collection is well-balanced; that is to say, the side of Boer and native is shown as well as the Imperialistic colonizer's views.
Among others, the pictures of beautiful Natal, garden of South Africa, and Rhodesia are particularly pleasing, and we note how in the latter excellent work is being done by young Englishmen from what may be termed the higher walks of life. The writer has found in other parts of the world that the best of such not only set some stamp of refinement upon very rough places, but also, strange to say, do the hardest and dirtiest things as efficiently as any to the manner born. Still, there is another kind, the "remittance men," who, levying blackmail on friends at home and degenerating into loafers, are anything but a blessing to any colony. We find it stated, however, that there are none of these in Rhodesia. The Boer is also shown both as an industrious farmer, and a sanctimonious ruffian whose knowledge of truth is represented by the symbol X, and who considers any scheme for improvement rank impiety. It may interest
some to learn that the population of the Transvaal consists of 27 per cent. Boers and 73 per cent. of other nationalities, practically all British, and that the former come of Gallic Huguenot as well as Teutonic stock.
The native question is ably treated, one article setting forth the fine qualities of the Zulus, and laying a heavy responsibility upon their to use a mild term-British mismanagement; while two very old problems which have never been fully solved are hinted at-whether the black man is improved by Christianity as it is taught to him, and to what extent we are justified in robbing him of his land. To the latter the Colonists' rejoinder, voiced by one writer is, "No race in the world has a perpetual right to territory which it abuses. And from this race or individual which cumbers the ground the ground must pass away."
There is a clear picture of the Zanzibar Protectorate, with a history from its foundation by Muscadine Arabs, and once more it becomes evident that the Arab's work in South-east Africa has been insignificant compared to his work in the north and west, where, instead of stealing him, he set a stamp of superiority and even of civilization upon the negro. Next follows a spirited vindication of British policy in Egypt, though the French who have, so it is shown, persistently hampered our improvements there would probably object to its being classified as British Africa.
Last come the West Coast colonies, where British commerce is advancing by leaps and bounds, and white men die even faster than they did at the beginning, behind which lie decadent but still partly civilized and powerful Moslem Sultanates. Here there is a clever study of native character by Miss Kingsley, and the civilized and converted negro appears again. One writer shrewdly observes that it might be better to teach him to work with his hands rather than ape the European, and become too often an unreliable clerk. The writer, knowing the species, agrees with this, but the process of teaching manual labour has sometimes in South Africa, at least, become synonymous with slavery. After all, as Miss Kingsley relates in a characteristic anecdote, the factories of West Africa are but the porter's lodge—the real settlement is the crowded cemetery.
British Africa is a kaleidoscopic mixture of malarial jungle, scorching uplands, giant ranges, and fertile hill-slopes, all manner of climates, nations, and languages, and this book throws a partial light upon it. No whole library could do so fully.-H. B.
15. India ("British Empire Series," vol. i.), with two maps. This work, the first of the "British Empire Series," contains twenty-three essays; nineteen deal with India, and the rest with Ceylon and the British settlements in the Far East. The majority of the essays were delivered as lectures before the South Place Ethical Society; but, with one or two exceptions, the form of the lecture has not been allowed to mar the literary character of the work. The essayists are all experts; popular governors, distinguished officials, and natives, not only gentlemen of standing, but also native ladies, have contributed their quota. The general aim of the essayists has been to describe the past and present condition of the provinces with which they deal, to show the political and economic results of British rule and the methods of British administration, and to bring
educated Englishmen into sympathetic contact with the strange civilizations and the infinite variety of peoples that find shelter beneath the broadspreading ægis of British supremacy. In a work of this kind there is necessarily a certain want of unity perceptible, a discordance of views, an inequality of grasp. Experts are not always the best exponents of their knowledge; it requires practice and some innate literary skill to bring out the salient features of a complex subject, and above all it requires the power of projecting one's self imaginatively into the position of the hearer. An English audience requires things to be explained, associations to be unravelled, misunderstandings to be guarded against, which to the expert are so obvious that they require neither mention nor explanation. As a whole, these papers do not err in this respect (they keep the salient points well in view); some of them are eminently readable, and only two or three are overburdened with details and a lack of proportion. One of the best is Mr. Baines' introductory essay on "Our Great Dependency." Mr. Baines opens with a favourite but somewhat disputable aphorism regarding the value of a stranger's first impressions, his vivid grasp of all that is prominent or new as contrasted with the detailed, laborious, and overcharged knowledge of the expert. But Mr. Baines' immense practice in dealing with huge and complex masses of facts has enabled him, despite his supposed disadvantages as an expert, to write a capital paper.
Obscurity and want of proportion cannot be charged against the essayists as a body, but several of them are guilty of that most common fault of lecturers the assertion of highly controversial opinions as indubitable truths. "In my lectures I say what I think," a German professor once remarked, "but in my books I put only what I know ;" and several of the lecturers appear to practise the same rule. But the chief defect of the work is not that it is written by experts who occasionally express very decided opinions, but that it did not have an expert for an editor. The originating idea was good, but it required an expert to map out the groundplan, to harmonize the contradictions, and to give unity to the whole. The book suffers from redundancy and from defect. Thus we are told four times over, and at great length, of the official machinery in all its detailsthe commissioners, collectors, judges, and the rest--and yet no one could imagine from this book that there was a material difference between the administrative systems of Madras, Bombay, and Bengal; nor could any unsophisticated reader by any chance discover what a non-regulation province means. Again, we have an article on Indian industries, but its manufactures are of infinitely less importance to India than its agriculture, and yet no paper on Indian agriculture is forthcoming. The essay on ancient Indian history is scarcely relevant to the main object of the work, and it is so slight that it might advantageously have been omitted. But if it were to be treated at all, it should have been entrusted to a competent scholar like Mr. Vincent Smith; and then why omit all mention of Muhammadan history, seeing that it bears so directly upon the present condition of the provinces? Nothing is said in this volume of Indian religions, probably because they have been dealt with in previous publications of the South Place Ethical Society; but their omission detracts from
THIRD SERIES. VOL. IX.
the value of Miss Hughes' interesting paper on Indian, or rather Sanskrit literature. The reader would not conjecture that there exists, or ever has existed, in India any literature except in Sanskrit. The volume therefore suffers both from deficiency and redundancy. It might have been enlarged with advantage, and the essays relating to the dependencies of the Colonial Office transferred to another volume. But the central idea is excellent, and the English reader will be able to form some idea of the physical aspects of the country, the look of the inhabitants, the political and economic questions with which the British Government has had to deal. Of the infinite variety of races and of tribes, the strange and complex civilizations, the spiritual worlds of the Orient, his notions will be vague; and of the novelty, the exhilaration, the glamour, of the East he will form no conception whatever. Curiously enough, there is no formal essay on the relations of England to India; and the evolution of Indian society and ideas under the impact of Western civilization is seldom touched on by the essayists. Sir R. West treats of it more fully than any of the others in a Prologue which is one of the best, or rather the very best and most thoughtful paper in the book. The passing reader cannot do better than lay to heart Sir Raymond's moral: "There must be a recognition of the teachings of actual experiment, but especially of that greatest lesson-that disdain is the outcome and the sure sign of stupidity."
The book is well printed, and published at a very moderate price.-J. K.
C. ARTHUR PEARSON, LIMITED; LONDON, 1899.
16. Tunisia and the Modern Barbary Pirates, by HERBERT VIVIAN, M.A., author of "Servia: The Poor Man's Paradise," etc. The author has produced a work, handsomely printed, profusely illustrated with photographs and a map, of scenes which he has personally visited. Should the reader desire instruction as to places, persons, habits, costumes, and other peculiarities of the various tribes, races, and nationalities of this comparatively unfrequented but interesting region, he will find the descriptions of one who has a keen eye of observation, common-sense, wit and humour. Works hitherto published in English belong to the past, and those of the French, in the author's opinion, are "prejudiced and stupid." It will serve the threefold purpose-to the traveller a pleasant and indispensable companion, a tribute to the last survivors of a grand medieval race, and a possible avenue of retrieving an opportunity lost by the Berlin Treaty towards promoting real civilization and commerce, and by which he considers British prestige and commerce were sacrificed.
The volume contains an historical résumé from ancient times—the French administration, the position of Islam, the Jews, Tunis and its suburbs, trade and agriculture, administration of justice and education, beasts and feathered fowl, and a description of Tripoli, with a copious index.
Bizerta has created an interest from the rumour that it had been ceded to Russia for a coaling station. The author observes that it might have been obtained "by England forty or fifty years ago, but our naval authorities rightly judged that it was not worth troubling about." Stress has been laid
upon the fact that all the fleets of the world might easily be concealed there, and, awaiting their opportunity, might sally forth and command the Mediterranean. The lake behind the town is equal in area to the whole city of Paris, and is probably the largest harbour in the world. "But most naval experts are agreed that, though all the navies of the world may take refuge in such a harbour, they will by no means find it so easy to come out again. A ship or two judiciously sunk at the entrance to the canal (which the French have cut) would 'bottle up' the fleets for weeks or months." However, for full information about that and similar topics, and descriptions of the humorous incidents and stories from the author's facile pen, we commend our readers to peruse the whole of this delightful and instructive volume.
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON ANd Co.; LONDON.
17. Introduction to the Study of Japanese Writing, by BASIL HALL CHAMBERLAIN. Mr. Chamberlain, who has already done so much for the student and the traveller in Japan, has followed up the third edition of his "Colloquial Handbook" by giving to the public a splendid work upon the above subject. The number of people in Europe and America who really understand the Japanese written character from a historical point of view is so limited that a detailed account of its growth here would either be superfluous, or would occupy a space disproportionate to the number of readers interested. The Japanese originally had no writing of any kind, and when first they were brought into contact with the Chinese ideographs (which as a matter of fact can be read out, so far as their meaning goes, in any language under the sun), either read them out in their own tongue, or used them phonetically; or, where they expressed new ideas, adopted and adapted their sounds as well as their meanings. At the time when diplomatic relations viâ Corea and commercial relations via Ningpo were first active and regular-i.e., about 1,400 years ago-the Chinese had developed a very artistic system of abbreviated or ultra-demotic calligraphy; and the arrival of very numerous batches of Hindu missionaries at the same period introduced almost simultaneously into China, Corea, and Japan quite new notions upon etymology, syllables, alphabets, and so on. The result of all this was that fragments of Chinese characters, or the whole of certain Chinese characters written in abbreviated forms, began to come into use with merely phonetic value. The effect of this upon Sanskrit or Pali, and upon Corean, need not be further enlarged upon here; but the gradual result in Japan was to create a most complicated system of writing, calculated or rather destined to reconcile the polysyllabic Japanese with the monosyllabic Chinese, whose nasals, tones, and aspirates were totally foreign to the Japanese genius, and could not be imitated. The object of the magnificent volume now under notice is to guide the European student step by step through this historic maze, and, in so doing, to enable him, also step by step, as in the case of the early Japanese, to avail himself of the ideographs, and of their excrescences and aftergrowths, as a means for expressing himself in writing in the mixed Japanese language of to-day. The Annamese, the Coreans, the Cathayans, the Tanguts, and the Golden Tartars have all in turn endeavoured to create new syllabaries or alphabets