15 JUNE 1929, Page 22

Of all neglected good books—books that should have continued to

live sturdily because they are literature, but that have somehow very nearly died—few that we have read so little deserved oblivion, so well merited reprinting as The Autobiography of Pel Verjuice (Scholartis Press, 8s. 6d.). Who was Pel Verjuice ? One might be excused for never having heard of him, but he was, in fact, a well enough known writer of the early nineteenth century of the name of Pemberton, who chose to sign the self-written history of his life otherwise having been advised, he tells us, to " leave readers to suppose the life and adventures to be a work of imagination. The facts are too surprising, too uncommon to obtain belief ; let the work appear, therefore, as mainly an invention, or a life of singular vicissitudes, told with the embellishments of fiction." That is one way of making sure that the reader will believe what he is told—that everything recounted did happen—but, in fact, we hardly need such assurance : the narrative is so vividly alive, sincere, and so full of information on a variety of subjects that it could be nothing but the writer's own history. Pel was neither a mere adventurer nor simply a bookish person ; he was a delightfully refreshing combination of artist and rover, who could write as exuberantly about his first visit to the play as about his enlistment in the Navy and subsequent adventures among ships. The book abounds in fine and humorous descriptions, satirical and entertaining digressions, and masterful little portraits. Pemberton ultimately became an actor and lecturer, and was accounted by many something of a genius in both those arts. But, as Fox said of Min, he was the very man to write autobiography," and we are very ready to agree with Mr. Eric Partridge that if he is to be remembered at all (as he certainly should be) it is as the author of Pel Verjuice.

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