THIS lively and generously illustrated book begins with the story of four of the lives of a “Royal Analostan” cat—we were a little afraid that there were to be nine—which, in virtue of considerable worldly wisdom, got on well against heavy odds. “But in spite of her prosperity, her social position, her royal name and fake pedigree, the greatest pleasure in her life is to slip out and go a-slumming in the gloaming, for now, as in her previous lives, she is at heart, and likely to be, nothing but a dirty little Slum Cat.” The second story tells of the ability of a homing pigeon and of its successful education. “The hardest of all work is over the sea, for there is no chance of aid from landmarks; and the hardest of all times at sea is in fog, for then even the sun is blotted out and there is nothing whatever for guidance. With memory, sight, and hearing unavailable, the Homer has one thing left, and herein is his great strength, the inborn sense of direction. There is only one thing that can destroy this, and that is fear, hence the necessity of a stout little heart between these noble wings.” This is a fair sample of the more reflective passages in the book, and it is too easy-going. There is a stronger note in the two descriptive studies of wolves, for Mr. Thompson Seton excels in proportion to the wild-ness of the scenery and of the dramatis personae. The other subjects are “The Boy and the Lynx,” “The History of a Jack-Rabbit,” “The Story of a Bull-Terrier,” and “The White Reindeer.” The author is an artist in reading the man into the beast—a great art, but a dangerous one; and we are afraid that some of the book is in the danger zone. But those who recoil from “apsychic” biology will probably agree that Mr. Thompson Seton's anthropomorphic faults lean to virtue's side.
Animal Heroes: Being the Histories of a Cat, a Dog, a Pigeon, a Lynx, two Wolves, and a Reindeer.
By Ernest Thompson Seton. Fourth impression. Pp. 363. (London: Constable and Co., Ltd., 1920.) Price 8s. 6d. net.
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Animal Heroes: Being the Histories of a Cat, a Dog, a Pigeon, a Lynx, two Wolves, and a Reindeer . Nature 105, 580 (1920). https://doi.org/10.1038/105580a0