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Two Travel Works (S355: 1882)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A book review of two travel works, printed on page 476 of the Nature issue of 14 September 1882. Anonymously penned, but credited in the volume's index. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S355.htm

Wanderings South and East. By Walter Coote. Maps and Illustrations. (London: Sampson Low and Co., 1882.)

Pioneering in the Far East, and Journeyings to California in 1849, and the White Sea in 1878. By Ludwig Verner Helms. Illustrations. (London: Allen and Co., 1882.)

     Although these two volumes cover a very wide field, neither of them can be said to break on new ground. Mr. Coote does not profess to be much more than a tourist, but as he tells the story of his wanderings pleasantly, and touched at a few places concerning which our information is scanty, he may be held to have sufficient excuse for bringing the record of his journey before the public. He spent some time in the Australian Colonies and Fiji, and visited Norfolk Island. His wanderings further embraced the Hawaiian Islands, the New Hebrides, the Banks and Torres Islands, the Santa Cruz and Solomon Islands, New Caledonia and the Loyalty Group. China and Japan, and Central and South America were also embraced in his extensive tour. Mr. Coote is a good observer, and the information he gives concerning what he saw in the less frequented islands, the New Hebrides, the Santa Cruz, Solomon and Loyalty Islands, is a welcome addition to existing knowledge. He is chiefly interested in the people, habits, houses, implements, and weapons, and therefore the ethnologist may find something in his volume that will be of service. The illustrations are good, and the volume as a whole is extremely pleasant reading.

     Mr. Helms is an old traveller, and most of his volume takes us back about thirty years ago. He spent considerable time in Bali and Borneo, where he took a prominent part in the events connected with Rajah Brooke; visited Cambodia and Siam, China and Japan, and spent some little time in California during the height of the gold fever. He brings together much curious and interesting information about Bali and Borneo, especially at the time of his sojourn, the condition of the people, their manners and customs, the state of trade, &c. He gives a very vivid description of an instance of suttee which he witnessed. His account of what he saw in California is interesting, and he finishes off with the record of a visit to the White Sea, in connection with some mining operations. Altogether his book is quite worth reading.

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