THIS is one of the best books of the kind we have met with. It is written for the young, but Mrs. Chisholm has wisely made no attempt to “write down” to the supposed mean capacity of the little folks; she tells her intensely interesting story in simple, unaffected, clear, forcible English. Indeed, were it not for the occasional interruptive questions and remarks of the group of youngsters to whom the authoress is supposed to be telling her story, one would naturally fancy that the book, like “Gulliver's Travels” and “Robinson Crusoe” had been written for all who can understand plain English. Mrs. Chisholm, in her opening chapter, “Life with the Esquimaux,” gives many details concerning the habits of that people, taken mainly from the late unfortunate Captain Hall's account of his residence among them. After another brief chapter on “North-East Voyages,” she enters upon the history of Arctic discovery on the American side, and with the greatest care and clearness, tells what the principal explorers, from Frobisher down to Hall, have done to make known to us the outline of the lands and seas of these mysterious northern regions. In doing so the authoress's object is something more than merely to fascinate and thrill her readers by a narrative of strange adventures by flood and field: while there is no apparent attempt at making the story a vehicle for conveying useful information, yet Mrs. Chisholm manages to convey, in an impressive manner, a great amount of knowledge of the geography, natural history, and meteorology of the Polar Regions. Indeed it would be difficult to devise a better method than is here followed, with the assistance of two excellent maps, of teaching the geography of Arctic America. As might be expected, the greater part of the book is occupied with modern voyages, mainly those of Parry, the Rosses, Franklin, and the Franklin Search parties. “Uncle George” gives a good deal of information concerning the whale-fishery, and also an account of Parry's boat voyage to the north of Spitz-bergen. Besides the two maps already referred to, the volume contains many beautiful illustrations. Perhaps it was scarcely necessary to make the children interrupt the story-teller so frequently with their questions; indeed the story is so attractively told that such diversions are sometimes irritating. But this is a smail matter; the work as a whole is capitally done, thoroughly interesting, healthy, and full of information.
Perils in the Polar Seas.
True Stories of Arctic Adventure and Discovery: A Book for the Young. By Mrs. Chisholm., authoress of “Rana; or, the Story of a Frog,” &c. (London: John Murray, 1874.)
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Perils in the Polar Seas . Nature 9, 241 (1874). https://doi.org/10.1038/009241a0