CAPT. BAX spent three years, 1871-4, cruising about in the waters on the east of Asia, and has written a pleasant gossipy account of what he saw. He went over ground that has been often traversed, and has not much that is new to tell. Many details, especially historical, are confessedly borrowed from well-known authorities, so that the work is to some extent a compilation. An unnecessarily large amount of space is devoted to accounts of various wrecks that occurred on the coasts near where the Dwarf happened to be cruising, and many incidents of trifling importance are narrated, adding considerably to the size but not to the value of the book. Probably the most valuable part of the work is that wherein the author's visits to Formosa and to the Russian coasts are described. Capt. Bax had some favourable opportunities of becoming acquainted with the Formosans, both civilised and wild, and gives some interesting details as to their appearance, manner of life, and customs; his second chapter is a history of the island from its discovery by the Chinese. There is a good map of the island, and it would have added to the value of the work had there been a map of the whole region with which the book is concerned. In his narrative of the voyage of the Dwarf along the coast of Asiatic Russia, some interesting facts are given as to the present condition of the Russian possessions in that quarter as far north as Nikolevsk. Capt. Bax also made an ascent of Fusiyama, in Japan, of which he gives a pleasant account. Altogether, although the work adds very little to our knowledge of either China, Japan, or Asiatic Russia, it contains a good deal of interesting reading.
The Eastern Seas: being a Narrative of the Voyage of H.M.S. “Dwarf” in China, Japan, and Formosa.
With a Description of the Coast of Russian Tartary and Eastern Siberia, from the Corea to the River Amur. By Capt. B. W. Bax., R.N. With map and illustrations. (London: John Murray, 1875.)
About this article