2 DECEMBER 1911, Page 7


PIONEERS. * CANADA and West Africa! What could be more unlike ? And yet there is no little significance in thus putting these together ; it makes us feel something of the greatness of the Empire of which both are parts. Let Canada come first ; for, indeed, it is first in time as in importance. One thing strikes us at once. How familiar is the story of the exploration and the conquest ! Yet somehow, told over again, it never wearies. And Sir Harry Johnston's manner of telling it is full of fresh- ness. He is wise in not stopping too long over the pro- tracted struggle between France and England in the East; he takes us westwards with the true pioneers. By giving us copious extracts from the journals of Mackenzie, Henry, and Frazer he makes us understand the gradual opening up of the North-West and of British Columbia and helps us to see the great features of the country, to know about its native tribes, its climate, its animal life. This is in a way to go outside his actual province, but it realizes for us the progress of the adventurous travellers ; it makes us see the country as they saw it. Though Sir Harry Johnston has not exactly broken new ground, his book is much more than a mere recapitulation of old narratives ; it is an epic of a great human achievement.

We have said that much of the Canadian story is familiar ; when we come to Africa we feel that many of the explorers' names will come with a sound of novelty to most readers How few will know about Jobson's expedition to Gambia, or the adventures of Denham in Bornu! Yet how full of thrilling interest they are! Later on in the volume, when the author gets to the journeys of Clapperton and Lander in Hausaland and the explorations of the two Landers which cleared up the Niger problem, he is in his own country, o, very near it. Naturally then he brings out to the full the extraordinary fascination that African travel exercises on all who have in them anything of imagination and of the adventurous spirit. Extracts from explorers' journals pro- vide us with plenty of excellent material of course, but to this the author adds a wealth of observation and knowledge of details—all that a life-long experience of the Arab traders and these old North African empires gives him. We can heartily recommend to readers this understanding and vigorous appreciation of the West African Pioneers by one who may well rank with them in the roll of honour.