21 NOVEMBER 1908, Page 10

The Nature Book. (Cassell and Co. 12s. net.)—This is a

book which will delight all dwellers in the country—and in town too— if they are of the open-eyed sort. There are few, we take it, who will not learn something from it. How few even of observant people with a popular acquaintance with natural history know that there are five kinds (not reckoning shrew-mice) of "mice of the field" ! How few know the difference between a field- mouse and a meadow-mouse ! These creatures, as Mr. Douglas English, who contributes the series of articles "How to Know tho Wild Animals," tells us, are very difficult to observe. They are small, they are nocturnal, and they build their nests under- ground. Well, on paper at least, and by the help of the photographs which watchfulness and skill have succeeded in taking of them, we can learn something about them. After these, we hear about the hedgehog, mole, stoat, and weasel. For these Mr. Maurice C. H. Bird is our instructor. We shall find that he too has something to teach us,—how, for instance, to know a crow from a rook. It is true that to do this with certainty the birds must be in the hand, not in the bush. It is a keen eye that can discern the heavier build of the crow, and his harsher note is not always heard. Of course the obvious distinction is that he is commonly solitary. Still, the rook may sometimes be seen by himself. Then Mr. Henry Irving tells us about "Trees Growing in Britain." It is not an exhaustive list, but as far as it goes it is very instructive. Not a few readers will be surprised to find that the sweet chestnut and the horse chestnut are "not even distantly related." (The sweet chestnut, we may remark, is grown not so much to give cover to game as for hop-poles, for which it is found to serve better than the ash.) Then we are instructed by Mr. H. P. Fitzgerald about "Flowers of Wayside, Waterside, Meadow, and Wood"; about "Insects" by Mr. John J. Ward ; and about "Clouds," and how to know the significance of their varying shapes, by Dr. W. S. S. Lockyer. Other things there are of no less interest. Altogether, this is a fascinating volume. The illustrations are especially good.—With this may be mentioned The Story of the Sea and Seashore, by W. Percival Westell (Robert Culley, 5s.) Mr. Westell begins with the "Sea-Monsters," belluarum turba natantium, among which he reckons whales, sharks, dog-fishes, and the octopus, with the angel or monk-fish. Then come por- poises, dolphins, and seals. About the last of these we have some specially interesting details. British seals have, happily for themselves, no valuable fur,—the fur that has more than once threatened the peace of the world. Among many curiosities, one is that the baby seal has to be forced by its parents into the water. Chap. 3 is given to "Some Common Sea Fishes." We observe that Mr. Westell denies, on what seems excellent authority, that there are "as good fish in the sea as came out of it." He thinks that great waste is going on. Something might be done by very strict legislation against the taking of immature fish. "One hundred and fifty-one tons of immature fish have been taken away from Billingsgate Market alone." But why not impose heavy fines on the people who expose them for sale ? Why not organise a system of visitation of the fishing Red by experts on Government vessels ? Then we have chapters about "Birds of the Open Sea" and "Birds of the Seashore." It is amusing to read that Londoners are to be commended for the manner in. which they appreciate and feed the "few wild seagulls" which visit the Thames. "Few" indeed ! There are times when there are many more to be seen between Blackfriars and Westminster- Bridges than along leagues of the coast. Lobsters and crabs, &c., shell-fish, sea-urchins, and the whole tribe of star-fishes and their congeners, corals, sponges, &c., and finally, "Plants and Shrubs of the Sea and Seashore," are successively dealt with, and make, together with what has been mentioned above, a most entertaining volume.