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on the whole, a very imposing ap- be fatal to the agricultural world pearance. of the former, where prices are even now at a minimum.

In connection with the geological expeditions that have also been at work on behalf of the railway, some excellent results have been obtained. Hitherto the fuel used has been wood, and a recent discovery of coal at Pavlodar had not been regarded with any great interest.

More lately, however, in the Mid-Siberian district, there have been two remarkable discoveries of anthracite or stone coal, but of very good quality, at points within 20 versts of the railway. Also in Trans - Baikalia, in the valley of the Selenga and other places, valuable deposits have been found, some of the seams averaging 35 feet in thickness.

In its relation to Russia, it is obvious that the new railway as an exporting agency may not be altogether an unmixed blessing. A prominent official told me that it will probably involve a radical change in the administration of this matter. The route from Europe to Siberia through the Kara Sea is still too uncertain a course to come into anything like general usage. Meantime an expedition is engaged in hydrographical work in these regions; and the lapse of a few years may make a great change in the point of view from which this passage is regarded at the present moment. But Siberia requires some cheap convenient way even now by which to export her produce. The yearly excess of grain available for export is 9 to 12 million poods (pood = 36 lb. Eng.) A moment's thought will serve to show how the great railway, mainly in its function of populating the country, will soon augment this large quantity. At the same time, to flood the already crowded Russian markets with Siberian corn would

To obviate this, a proposal was laid before the Committee of the Trans-Siberian Railway to join by rail the basins of the Ob and northern Dwina. The projected line was to start from Perm, and, passing through Viatka, to strike the Dwina near the village of Kotlass, whence a run of 649 versts down the river would bring one to Archangel. At the present moment there are upwards of seventy steam craft plying on that stretch of the river. It has been estimated that the cost of delivery of grain cargoes in London would be about 12 to 24 kopecks the pood cheaper from Tiumen, and 31 to 6 kopecks from Barnaul through Archangel, than through St Petersburg. In time, with the improvement of the navigable condition of the Dwina and other rivers, as also by the lowering of the freights, it is supposed that this difference would yet be more increased to the advantage of Archangel. The cheapening of grain in the Archangel market will mean the fall of prices on all the White Sea coast, and will provide the possibility in the widest measure of increasing the sea industry, which is now declining year by year, and passing into the hands of the Norwegians. The estimated cost of this railway is 55 million roubles (£5,500,000). A commencement was made in 1895, and in time the line will be brought into direct connection with the other branches of the Russian railway system. Such, at least, is Prince Khilkoff's dream, which many, however, loudly prophesy will result in failure, ascribing it to what they deem to be his over-eagerness in Russian railway


One feature about the railway

and its influence is very noticeable. Russians are just beginning to find out what they have got in Siberia, which is at once the gem of the Russian empire and its cesspool. The seeming indifference of the Russian people to this new exploit is really remarkable. If any English-speaking race were in the position of Russia at the present time, it is inconceivable that one would not meet with a host of individuals of all sorts and conditions rushing out to take possession of this land of promise,clerks, tradesmen, speculators, prospective hotel proprietors, saloonkeepers, bankrupts, members of the Salvation Army,-and what does one find in Siberia? Not a single Russian travelling to spy out the land from mere love of it, and few anxious even so much as to visit this country of the future.

Finally, the political aspect of this magnificent enterprise can hardly be overlooked. It probably means the eventual acquisition of

Manchuria by the Russians. No one conceals the fact that the present line, as traced on their charts through Nertchinsk and Khabarovka down to Vladivostock is only looked on as a feeder. It traverses a region with a scanty population, and ends at a port that is shut up for six months in the year. It is needless to recount details that were quite recently published as to the survey that is at present being carried on by Russian, French, and Chinese official engineers, for the purpose of taking a line across Manchuria through Tsitsihar, by which the Ussuri and the western parts of the Trans-Siberian Railway may be united. This short cut will, it is stated, come out at Vladivostock. But the Gulf of Pechili is the ultimate goal in the vision of Russian railway enterprise, and it can only be a question of time till the TransSiberian Railway finds an Eastern terminus on its milder shores.



If a person about to deal with Reviewing had no further desire than to amuse his readers or his audience at the least cost to himself, he could hardly do better than make a cento of extracts from authors on the subject of reviewers. There would certainly be no lack of matter; and as certainly there would be no lack of piquancy in what there was. As Mr Pendennis remarked of his uncle and Captain Henchman, that he was "sorry to say they disliked each other extremely, and sorry to add that it was very amusing to hear them speak of each other," so may it be said of authors and reviewers. Indeed the comparison is more than usually appropriate, for as Captain Henchman and Major Pendennis belonged after all to the same class, so also do reviewers and authors.

However, it is not my present purpose to compile in this fashion, and we may content ourselves with two key-notes uttered in harmony by perhaps the two most dissimilar writers of genius in England in the early years of this centuryWilliam Cobbett and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Cobbett, in triumphant comment on his own English Grammar,' asserts that fifty thousand copies of it have been sold, "without its ever having been mentioned by those old shuffling bribed sots, the reviewers." And Shelley, in one of the cancelled sentences of the preface to 'Adonais '-sentences cancelled, not out of repentance, but because he preferred to put the thing differently -informs us that "Reviewers, with some rare exceptions, are a most stupid and malignant race." Putting aside "old"-which can

not, I think, be predicated nowadays of at least the majority of reviewers-and "sots," which is irrelevant and actionable-these two sentences from the most ethereal of great poets and the most prosaic of great prose-writers pretty well sum up the general indictment. Bribed, shuffling, stupid, malignant to worth and genius, neglectful of it when not malignant. That is what authors (when they are not reviewing, which often happens) say of reviewers.

But it is not all that is said. Persons, sometimes really impartial, sometimes affecting impartiality, and, at any rate, not merely abusive or indignant, ask what is the good of reviewing; whether any man who has real knowledge and talent would not be much better employed in creative, or at any rate substantive, work, than in simply commenting on the work of others; whether the habit of reading reviews does not provide an unhealthy substitute for the habit of reading the books themselves; whether the diversity of equipment to begin with, and the diversity of verdict in the end, do not make reviews almost impossible as instruments of instruction or edification of any kind? I have even known odder charges than these made, and complaints raised that the reviewer, by extracting (yet, on the other hand, one meets with complaints that he does not extract), spoils the author's market, and in fact violates his copyright. In fact, the reviewer is in even worse case than a celebrated heroine of one of the poets, who hated reviewers worst in his own peculiar fashion, and who, to do him justice, had no

very great reason to love them. He is a being whom "there are few to praise and not a soul to love."

I do not on this occasion hold any brief for the reviewer; but as it has long seemed to me that there is not only a good deal of passion in some of the things that are said against him, but a considerable deficiency of knowledge in very many of the things that are said, if not against yet about him, I have thought that it might not be uninteresting to hear what a reviewer of pretty considerable experience, who has given up reviewing, has to say on the subject. I had had rather more than twenty years' practice in reviewing at the time I gave it up; and during the greater part of that period I think my practice was about as extensive and various as that of any of my contemporaries. I have written reviews in half-a-dozen lines and reviews in forty pages. I have reviewed books in classics, in mathematics, in history, in philosophy, in geography, in politics, in the fine arts, in the arts of war by land and sea, in theology, in cookery, in pugilism, and in law. I have reviewed "travels and novels and poems," at least as many as ever did the aforesaid Mr Pendennis. I have, though very rarely indeed, and always under protest, reviewed books with the printer's devil waiting to carry away the sheets to press as they were written.

I once (by no offer or intrigue of my own, but simply because as many editors, unasked, sent the volume to me) wrote five different reviews of the same book. And if any one unkindly says: "In short, you were a reviewer of all work, and refused none," I can clear myself from that imputation. For I once refused to review a

book in Syriac, because I do not know a word of that language; and I always refused to review books on the currency, because I have (for reasons based on observation) made it a rule to refrain from understanding anything whatever about that subject. I can thus, at least, plead experience, and as I never wish to write another review of the ordinary kind, I can also plead complete disinterestedness.

In one respect I may be

found disappointing, for I have no mystery of iniquity to reveal, no 'Satan's Invisible World' to display. No doubt there are venal reviewers, and no doubt there are spiteful ones; there are, I presume, rascals and shabby fellows in all professions, vocations, and employments. If a man has strong private or party animus, and no very high sense of honour, he will no doubt make up his mind, as we know Macaulay did in Croker's case, to "dust the varlet's jacket for him" when he gets hold of a book by a person whom for any reason he dislikes. Nay, as there are many people who have the fortunate or unfortunate gift of being able to convert their likes and dislikes into ethical and intellectual approval or disapproval of a quasi-sincere kind, the dusting will, no doubt, often be done with a sense of action ad majorem Dei gloriam with a conviction that it is a noble action and a virtuous one. But, once more, these curious self-delusions, as well as the more downright and unquestionable indulgences in evil-speaking and evildoing, are not peculiar to reviewing. There may be a little more temptation to and opportunity for them there than elsewhere: but this temptation and this opportunity are reduced to a minimum if the editor has his wits about him

and does his duty. Of course, if editor and reviewer are in a conspiracy there is nothing to be said; but, again, conspiracies are not unknown things in any relation of life, and yet, again, I do not believe that they are more common in reviewing than anywhere else. They exist, doubtless, in some cases; but in most they are simply figments of a very well-known and only too common form of mania, and sometimes figments half-ludicrously and half-pathetically contrary to the fact.

The most curious instance of this that I ever knew was as follows: There was once upon a time a not undistinguished man of letters whom we may call A.; and there was, contemporary with him, a busy reviewer whom we shall call B. B., with his name, reviewed, not by any means savagely, but with rather qualified admiration and some strictures, a volume of A.'s poems. Some time afterwards he was told that A. was what is familiarly called a skinless person; and not finding any particular amusement in tormenting, thenceforward, when a book of A.'s came in his way, praised it if he could, or let it alone. On one occasion B. received through an editor a letter of thanks from A. for an anonymous review of his. But after A.'s death, which happened some years later, B. learnt that A. had been under the constant idea, and had frequently declared to his friends, that he, the said B., had been "hounding him anonymously throughout the press for years"! Of course nothing can be done with or for such Heauton-timorou menoi as these. No praise is ever sufficient for them all blame is undeserved, interested, malignant. But in cases of real personal enmity or friendship, or of

very strong disapproval on religi ous or political or other grounds, I think there is a very simple rule for the reviewer. If the book of a friend which you cannot praise, or that of an unfriend which you have to blame severely, comes to you-send it back again. The right of silence is the only one of the Rights of Man for which I have the slightest respect, or which I should feel disposed to fight for.

It has also to be remembered, when the subject of unfair and biassed reviewing is under consideration, that, at any rate nowadays, when reviews are very numerous, and when no single vehicle of them enjoys commanding reputation or influence, such reviewing does no very great harm. It is unpleasant, of course. If a man say he likes it nobody believes him, even though a gratuitous advertisement that one is not connected with certain journals may be a distinct compliment, and a kind of present. A once well-known member of the House of Commons amused it not so very many years ago by avowing his terror of the 'Skibbereen Eagle.' It was no doubt not shared by his hearers; but it may be doubted whether any one of them would not have in fact preferred, though only by a faint preference, praise in the 'Skibbereen Eagle' to abuse in it. Yet it is hardly conceivable that the abuse can really damage any one; and it sometimes, when unskilfully and extravagantly indulged in, creates a distinct revulsion in favour of the victim. It is certain that the dead-set made many years ago in certain quarters at the late Mr Froude's historical work determined more persons than one to take a more favourable view of it and of him than they might other

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