LITERARY NOTICES.|1907-12-18|The Chester Courant and Advertiser for North Wales - Welsh Newspapers Online
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LITERARY NOTICES.

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LITERARY NOTICES. NEW BOOKS. NATURAL HISTORY ESSAYS.* In the present volume Dr. Rentib.aw concludes a series of throe books dealing with the life history of quite a crowd of wild animals. This last is styled "Final Natural History Essays," but in view of the amount of pleasure and in- struction which the author has conveyed to the public by means of these writings, we trust tho finality is not yet awhikv Although Dr. Ranshaw may have many rivals in natural history equally keen and obs^Tvanr, we know of none who 00.11 rival his life-like picturc-s of the strange and savage beast in its native wilds. In the dazzling moonlight of the Arctic regions or under the grilling sun of tho African desert 1 he is equally at home, conjuring up before the reader a cinematographic scene in which the outlandish beasts and birds play their part. The book is valuable as a work of reference, 00 account of the pai-ns taken to secure accuracy on a subject which is often treated loosely by half-informed scribes. From the popular stand- point, however, it is likely to be a great. favourite from the piot.urt-squonesa with which tho various animals are invested. In describ- ing the drill baboon, it is interesting locally to observe; that "in October, 1799, a mandrill was exhibited alive at Chester. It is interest- ing to note. that, alt,hough these baboons have for many years been brought alive to Europe, no full-grown mandrill was exhibited in the London Zoological Gardens until Nov. 20, 1906." It is curious to the non-scientific reader to discover the wealth of baseless superstition with which natural history is surrounded. To quote our author:- In spite of the rapid progress made in matters zoological of Jato years, many popu- lar errora respecting animals still persist. Tho magnanimity of the lion is pure non- sense. The tiger is not more blood-thirsty than the leopard, the jaguar, or even the weasel. antelopes and door have before now turned furiously on their keepers. Gorillas said to have boan killed while charg- ing are found to have the shot-holes in the back. The small-brained Indian elephant is not so superlatively intelligent as the average writer makes out; the bumps of his forehead indicate air-cells and not intollcc-t,. "Silly" shoep shew true wisdom in fo''o\ving the foot- steps of a tacitly elected I n-; pigs are- not fonder of wallowing in u.c mire than rhinoceroses, buffaloes, or even some ante- lopes. The various species of hyena, though largely oarrion-feeders, are not exclusively so; they are to some extent distinctly car- nivorous, attacking cattle and even man. It i2 impoEsib'o in a brief review to follow Dr. Ibmhaw in detail in his wanderings over the faee of the uncivilised globe, but the reader is constrained to sympathise with him in his lament over tha march of civilisation which has driven many interesting species of wild crea- tures out of existence. The life-like sketches of the state of affairs before the European's adv-ent in Africa are no less fascinating than the scenes that are conjured up of prehistoric Britain, when the musk ox, the antelope, the rhinoceros, the bear, the wolf, and the mam- moth stalked over the land. Like its prede- cessors, this volume is liberally illustrated with excellent photographs of the most interesting species of animals, either caged alivo or in tnuseum-cases. Every reader, we believe, will jonn in the wish that the autJior must not regard his nauiral history work as completed with this hook. DEBRETT'S PEERAGE. During its phenomenally long life, "Dcbrott'i Peerage, Baronetagia, Knightage and Com- panionate" has proved its indispensability as a work of reference. The present is its 195th ycar of issue, a record which is, we suppose, practically unrivalled in this class of publica- tion. In all sorts of public and' private busi- ness nothing is more necessary than to have accuracy in all names, titles, etc., and there are few spherce in which there is more opportunity for error, in the absence of a reliable guide like "Debrott." What, for example, is easier than to confuse Lord Napier and Ettriok with Lord Napier of MagdaJa, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh with Lord de Clifford, Lord Manners with Earl Manvers, Lord Gillford with the Earl of Guilford, Lord Newborough with the Earl of Newburgh, ajid so forth? The pre- faoo of the present volume of "Dobrett," dis- cussing the proposed reform of the House of Lords, points out that "sinoo the accession of Queen Victoria there has been conferred some 540 peerages and 460 betrOiTiotages, so that the average of hereditary honours bestowed per annum works out for this period of seventy years at, for peerages nearly five, and for baronetcies under seven, in itself not an ex- cessive number, especially as, on the average, three peerages and four baronetcies become extinct annually." Between December 6th last year and December 5th this year the new honours announced shew that five new peer- ages have been created and seven barontaies have become extinct New baronetcies to the number of 17 have been created, while three have become extinct; 23 members have been sworn of the Privy Council; 175 new knights have been created; 236 new members or com- panions have been nominated to the various orders. An instructive table is given, shew- ing the number of new honours oonforredyear by year sinoo 1883. "THE LICENSED TRADE" (By Edwin A. Pratt. London: John Murray, Albemarle- streefc. Is.). Suoh has been the popularity of this excellent work on the licensing question that it has nm into a second edition already, published ait a shilling. When it originally appeared, we spoke in terms of the warmest commendation of its excellence, and now it has been reduced in price, it ought to bo studied by every political speaker and writer, as weil as by the many people who are in- terested in the question from tho trade point of view. The Government's Licensing Bill promises to be the great subject of contention in the next Session of Parliament, and those who hopa to be. able to tackle the matter in- telligently ought to make a point of reading and digesting this lucid work, which has been brought right up to date. "CAPE COLONY TO-DAY" (By A. R. E. Burton, F.R.G.S.—Sold by Messrs. W. H. Smith and Son, 2&). This is a handsomely- bound, printed and illustrated handbook of Capo Colony, published under the authority of tho Cape Government Railway Department. The general soh&me of the work is to give a comprehensive description of the Colony, by means of ten towns, each of which embraces a different section of the country, and each of which was undertaken by the oompiler of tho work. The book is written in a brighter strain than most handbooks, and forms really good reading. Speaking of the progress of the Colony, the writer says:—"In comparison with the population of some other British oversea Colonies, the white population of Capo Colony is small, nevertheless proportion- ally her place as a produoor is not far, if at all, behind. In many instances, they (the returns) reveal wonderful growth. Less than a decade back, lean in many cases than five years previously, many of tho&e products for which some places 'have become noted were not recorded at all, and, taking a series of years, it is found that there is a steady general annual increase owing largely to the irresistible natural expansion of an essentially agricultural country. The annual increase in some of the most important products may be estimated at from five to ten per cent., and, allowing the most ample margin, it is safe to forecast Cape Colony's agricultural produces ten years honoe, with but normal exertion, at double their present value. With tn ex- pansion of policy that would make for closer settlement she would leap instantly into pro- minence aa a successful rival of the Australian states, who are many thousands of miles more distant from Coven t Garden than Cape Colony." Of the general optimistic tone of the book, the following sentence is typical: — "To the new chum fresh from the fight for existenoo that makes to-morrow a horrible problem to nearly half the people of the Old World our 'depression' is a. oomfortablo inflation."

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