10 JANUARY 1914, Page 25



Hs CIRCNINGHAMB GBAIIAld alike in letters and in public life is perhaps the most notable, and certainly the most engaging, representative of the type which the French call refractaire. Littre by way of illustrating the use of the word gives a passage from a work on natural history which we cannot refrain from quoting because of its curious appropriateness in this context: "Le Kamichi, grand oiseau de rAmerique, demi-aquatique, d'un genre fort singnlier, et tree-refractaire a la nomenclature." Mr. Cunninghame Graham has certainly a good deal of the Kamichi about him. He is "very singular, and very hard to classify," this Scots laird, poet, Socialist and Centaur. But above all he is a hater of civilization, prosperity, commercialism, success, and the big battalions. He is always on the side of the small races, dying nationalities, or the savage tribes extruded or absorbed by the expansion of Empire. For one thing, civilization, especially on its commercial side, eliminates picturesqueness and the primitive virtues. (We may note in passing that the robust and virile villainy of the noble savage is invested by Mr. Cunninghame Graham with a certain glamour, whereas the errors of advanced civiliza- tions only move him to contempt.) Worse still, it substitutes a "stinkpot" for the noblest of animals. For it is hardly too much to say that what Mr. Conrad does for the sea Mr. Cunninghame Graham does for the horse—he writes of him with the precision of the expert combined with the enthusiasm of the poet. As may be expected from this recital of his refractory qualities, Mr. Cunninghame Graham is always " agin the Government," and never more in the vein than when he is describing the wild life of the Indians and outlawed revolutionaries in the "Tierra Adentro," or " Inside Land," of the Southern Pampa, or the marauding excursions of the "loose and broken men" who were not included in the general amnesty after the "Forty-five." The worst of this temper is that it forces its owner more and more to depend on retrospect. The "Purple Land " that Mr. W. H. Hudson and Mr. Cunninghame Graham knew forty years ago is little more than a memory. Buenos Aires from being a colonial has now become a cosmopolitan city, and the change is vividly brought home to us in the study which ends with the following characteristic passage :- "Although we knew it not, being perhaps more occupied with life than with political economy, the city held within itself the germs of all it has become. I know that it is great and prosperous, wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice ; that the great liners all tie up at stone-built docks, and passengers step from them into their motor-care. All this I know, and I am glad, for necks io fti pitiors, that is, I used to ride along the streets of the old Buenos Aires generally upon a little dorodillo, that I had, with the great silver spurs just hanging off my heels when I rode up to Class's Hotel, alter delivering a troop of cattle at the saladero, on the outskirts of the town. So may a man who in his youth has seen a gipsy dancer, brown, active, thin, and has admired her from afar, when he has met her in his after life, married to a capitalist, splendid in jewels and in Paris clothes, still think that she looked better in her print skirt and frayed Manila shawl."

All that gave life its savour and zest, all the magic—to pervert Keats—of "perilous lands forlorn," has disappeared before the plough and the railway, and the words "all are gone" recur like a mournful burden throughout the stories and studies of cattle-ranching on the Pampa. Curiously enough, Mr. Cunninghame Graham makes us feel as if rural Spain and Scotland had changed lees than South America.

Ina whimsical preface Mr. Cunninghame Graham discourses of the harsh treatment meted out to a writer of imagination should his critics find him lacking in taste or catch him out in grammar or style "In a way no writer can complain. Suppose Columbus after all

• d Ilatahmant. By B. B. Cunninghame Graham. London: Duckworth and Oa 0.J

the soil he made, and after all the months that he had bothered both the Catholic kings, when they, as they conceived it, were occupied before Granada, in the most important matter in the world, had sailed away upon the proceeds of Queen Isabella's jewels, and had returned again, having found nothing but a waste of water, just like eternity, with no end or beginning, what would the world have said? There was no standard in those days by which to judge Columbus, and there is none to-day, or ever will be one (as far as I can see), by which to measure writers, except they write on history, or mathematics, or compile biographies."

So, in conclusion, he tells us that he pens this foreword not in the hope of averting misapprehension, "for that I know is sure, but because in a mamelnke bit, in the high port, are not infrequently put several little rings . . . so that the horse may champ upon them." That Mr. Cunninghame Graham should ever trouble his head about what critics think of his taste or style or gmmmar--none of them impeccable—is surprising. We should have thought him wholly unsnsceptible either to censure or praise. In his present collection, happily, Mr. Cunningbame Graham writes more often like an angel than an enfant terrible. " Bismillah " is a wonderful picture of noon in North Africa. Even finer in its poetic quality is the

study of Seats mist, culminating in the lyrical apostrophe

:- "Refuge of our wild ancestors, moulder of character, inspirer of the love of mystery, chief characteristic of the Ithltio mind, spirit that watches over hills and valleys, lochs, nimbi:n:4 bealachs, and shaggy bandana, essence compounded of the water of the sky and earth, impalpable, dark and threatening, Fingal and Bran and Ossian, and he who in outstretching Ardnamurchan strung his harp to bless the birlinn of Clanranald, all have disappeared in thy grey folds."

"The Beggar Earl," again, is a charming picture of a real per- sonage, a medical student who claimed a Scots peerage in 1744, and on the rejection of his claim withdrew to beg his bread and wander up and down his earldom till his death. But for the one jibe atthe " ebenezerized cathedral of Dunblane," the sketch is written throughout in a spirit of pure compassion, for Mr. Cunninghame Graham is never so sympathetic as when he is dealing with lost causes or disinterested ideals. Beside such as the Beggar Earl he finds fairies prosaic. "Those born in the ordinary, but miraculous, fashion of mankind, who live appar- ently by bread alone, and yet remain beings apart, not touched by praise, ambition, or any of the things that move their fellows, are the true fairies after all." Very moving, again, is the story of the peasant who rode many miles to intercept the Sad-express at a little wayside station in order to get some ice for his dying father. Though the old man wan already dead when the son returned with the precious lump of ice, now little bigger than an apple, it was some comfort for hint to learn that for a full hour before his father died he murmured now and then, " How cool the ice is! It stale the throbbing of my forehead and slakes my thirst—my son Miguel rode for it to the train." Of the other studies and sketches, "The Pass of the River" is a brilliant epitome of bygone Gaucho life in Uruguay; "El Rodeo" condenses the romance and peril of the daily work on a great cattle estancia into twenty vivid pages; and we are shown the very spirit of courtesy and hospitality incarnate in the blind Gaucho, Anastasio Lucena. When Mr. Cunninghame Graham is deliberately humorous, as in "A Moral Victory," he is less impressive. But there is humour of a pleasant flavour in " A Page of Pliny," which tells how a sober Scotsman set out on a wild-goose chase in search of a Roman mine in Spain, in company with a half- cracked engineer, of whom we read that "nothing astonished him if it was only wild enough ; but, on the other hand, the merely credible did not appeal to him, and he subjected it to strict examination, finding it, as a general rule, impossible, and not worthy of belief."