27 FEBRUARY 1904, Page 25


[Under this heading we notice such Books of the week as have not been reserved for review in other forms.] The Back Blocks of China. By H. Logan Jack, LL.D. (E. Arnold. 10s. 6d. net.)—Dr. Jack and his party left Shanghai for the interior of China early in January, 1900, their object being the examination of certain mining properties. They had traversed a great distance—more than two thousand miles—when their work was interrupted by news of the " Boxer " troubles. The end of the matter was that they had to make the best of their way into Burmah. Dr. Jack's narrative is, we need hardly say, of considerable interest. It is, indeed, somewhat bewildering from the multi- plicity of names, &c. The ordinary reader, whose time and capacity of attention are limited, would have been thankful for an itinerary with dates and distances. But if any one will set himself to study the story carefully he will learn much, and not without entertainment. The country visited by the travellers is but little known to Europeans ; some of it was absolutely new to Western travel. The circumstances of the visit gave it a special interest. The " Boxer " movement was going on, and though it had not reached to Western China, there were sympathetic elements there. There was, without doubt, very good reason for the advice which the officials gave to the party, that they should seek safety within British boundaries. Dr. Jack has reached some conclusions as to the future of China which will be received with respect, though they are, we think, a little too general. The Chinaman has a laudable respect for knowledge, but he has a lamentably narrow view of the limits of knowledge. He honours his parents, but unfortu- nately thinks that it means disrespect to ancestors to know more than they did. Even educated people are incredibly ignorant; and the nominal rewards of learning often go to the highest bidder. "Many centuries must elapse," we are told, "before Christianity makes the slightest impression on China." But it has made a considerable impression already, as may be seen from the notice next below. In the region of politics "the advance of a united China in an aggressive mood would constitute a menace to the peace of the world," but "at the present day there is, happily, no such thing as a united China." But if the man comes, the hour will not be long in striking. Thebes never became dominant till it produced an Epaminondas. But for the chance stroke of a javelin at Mantinea it might have united all Greece under its sway.