THE ever-increasing number of books on natural history, sport, gardening,
games, and other outdoor matters compels ns to include in one article some to which we would gladly give a longer review. First among the seven volumes before (1) Polo : Past and Present. By T. F. Dale. " The Country Life Library of Sport." London : Country Life, Limited. [12s. 6d. net. J—(2) Riding and Driving. u Biding," by Edmund L. Anderson. "Driving," by Price Collier. " The American Sportsman's Library." London : Macmillan and Co. [85.6d. net.]—(3) Home Life in Bird-Land. By Oliver G. Pike. Illustrated with over 80 Original Photographs taken direct from Wild Nature by the Author. London : B.T.S. [613. net.]—(4) Bird Life Glimpses. By Edmund Selous. With 12 Headings and 6 Full•page Illustrations by G. E Lodge. London : George Allan. [6s. net.]—(5) Wild Flowers, Month by Month, in their Natural Haunts. By Edward Step, F.L.S. Vol. I. With 166 Illustrations reproduced from Original Photographs by the Author. London : Frederick Warne and ' Co. [90. net.]—(6) The Amateur Gardener's Bose Book. By the late Dr. Julius Hoffmann. With 20 Coloured Plates from Drawings by Hermann Friese and 16 Woodcuts. Translated from the German by John Weathels. N.R.S. London : Longman and Co. [7s. 68. net.)—(7) Nature Study Lessons for Primary Grades. By Mrs. Lida B. Mchturry. With an Introduction by Charles A. gaturry. London: 'Macmillan and Co. Ps. 6d. net.] us is Mr. Dale's Polo : Past and Present, an excellent book profusely illustrated with photographs of ponies, players, and incidents on the polo ground. Polo, as Mr. Dale reminds us in his opening chapters, is one of the most ancient of games ; and, whereas polo is sometimes called " hockey on horseback," the truth is that hockey is polo on foot. The name is derived from a Tibetan word meaning willow-root, from which the balls are made. It apparently spread from Persia into India and the Byzantine Empire. How or when it reached Japan we know not. The poor horseman- ship of the Greeks and Romans is probably the reason why it did not find favour among those ancient nations. A distinguished scholar has suggested want of stirrups as a possible explanation. Chosroes II. in Persia, Manuel Comnenus at Byzantium, the Emperor Akbar in India, were all polo players. It is strange that this game should have died out except among the bill-tribes of Northern India. Major Sykes and Mr. Horace Rumbold reintroduced it at Teheran in 1897 ; and the rise of modern polo in India only dates from the end of the Afghan War. The first game in England was played by the 10th Hussars at Shorncliffe. The chapter on " Ancient Polo " might with advantage have been much longer, and would have been improved by references in footnotes to original authorities. In the two following chapters the history of Hurlingham, where polo was first played about 1879, and has displaced pigeon- shooting, and the influence of Ranelagh on the spread of polo, are described with rather needless prolixity. On the other hand, the reader would have been glad if the chapter containing Mr. Dale's recollections, from the time when he first played the game at Karachi until he became polo manager at the Ranelagh Club, had been of greater length. The game is not one to be learned from books, but a short chapter on the elements of polo is as instructive as it can be ; and the later portions of the work, which deal with training ponies, stable management, and polo-pony breeding, contain much excellent matter. The essential, however, in polo is horsemanship, and no book, nor even Mr. Wither's ingenious machine, can produce a Buckmaster or a Foxhall Keene. Mr. Dale; moreover, does not pretend to do so. In one respect he tries to prove too much when he argues that polo is not an expensive game. All expense is relative, and polo is the most expensive game in the world. We are well aware that enthusiasts from Government offices play before breakfast at Wembley Park for a guinea a game, everything included; but the man who does not own ponies can hardly hope to become much of a player. Mr. Dale thinks the best ponies are cheapest in the end, and the prices not extravagant, and then cheerfully adds that be does not refer to fancy prices, but to such sums as £350 to £450 ! The book ends with chapters on polo in America and Australia, a technical commentary on the English and Indian rules, and an appendix on clubs and tournaments and their results. We need hardly add that there is little about polo that Mr. Dale does not know, and it would be a step forward if his efforts led to an international code of rules.
Horsemanship and coachmanship form the subject of the latest volume in " The American Sportsman's Library," which is edited by Mr. Caspar Whitney. Riding and Driving is the title, and these are respectively dealt with by Mr. Ander- son and Mr. Collier, both of whom agree that the horse is a beast of low intelligence, incapable of real affection towards man, and liable always to attacks of terror. " Well," said an American of his horse, "I guess his natural gait is running away." And this must be constantly remembered by those who train young horses. The instructive chapters on the art of riding, stable management, harness, shoeing, and driving one horse, a pair, and four-in-hand need only be mentioned. Americans, as Mr. Anderson points out, have inherited from the English the mistaken prejudice that no foreigner can " sit" a horse. More interesting to our readers will be the account of the stock-farms in Kentucky, which is the breeding-place and home of the American saddle-horse, and a description of the American cavalry, who are taught the most extra- ordinary trick riding. The English sportsman is a bold rider whose. object is to cross a difficult country. "He is en- couraged by his favorite authors, who know nothing beyond this, to believe that nothing remains." Our author does not think much of the horsemanship of the British trooper. Is it possible that the American trotting-horse owes its origin
as early as 1735, whilst the New Englanders frowned upon horse-racing. But Cromwell's love of a fast horse survived in the Puritans of New England, and men trained in
theological hair-splitting made a distinction between horses trotting and horses running for money prizes. The trotting
breed is stamped with the blood of Hambletonian,' and it is remarkable that, though in 1806 a horse named Yankee' did the mile in 2 min. 59 sec., it took until 1903 to produce the famous Lou Dillon,' fifth in descent from Hambletonian,' who reduced the record to 2 min. How long will it be before mechanical traction has quite superseded the trotting- horse ? Mr. Collier once paid a compliment on his skill to an omnibus-driver in Piccadilly. "Well, you see, sir," replied the man, "there's plenty of drivers about, but there's not many of us coachmen left !" The book is illustrated with a great number of rather small and sometimes amateurish photographs.
We pass now to ornithology, and since our readers are probably familiar with Mr. Oliver G. Pike's earlier books, we need not say much about Home Life in Bird-Land. It is a misfortune that whoever may be responsible should not have discovered that Mr. Pike's excellent photographs of birds and nests can be reproduced without the extremely objectionable, heavy, glazed paper that used to be thought essential. The text describes excursions, chiefly in Wales, pleasantly enough; but the only chapter that calls for special notice describes the kite, the rarest of resident British birds, in its home in Wales. Mr. Bond, whose book we noticed some while ago, declared that in 1903 no kites hatched their eggs in Wales. Mr. Pike now says that in that year he knew of five nests in Great Britain, of which three were in Wales, and that one pair reared two young, which were added to the small number of survivors. The British kites are being protected against collectors and keepers as far as possible, and it is to be hoped that this season may see an increase. Every nest is of course known and watched. We cannot agree with Mr. Pike's defence of the mischievous sparrow. And the state- ment that " God gives the birds their sweet songs that we may listen to them and enjoy them " will not be assented to by either theologians or naturalists at the present day.
Of a somewhat different kind is Mr. Edmund Selous's Bird Life Glimpses. It is an interesting book, written in an original style by a very painstaking observer who loves to start new and bold theories. Ornithology is interspersed with rather needless tags of Latin, Greek, French, German, Italian, and Spanish. The book is based on "a day-to-day journal of field observation and reflection," kept during the greater part of three years, at Icklingham, in Suffolk. The fact that nightjars feed their young by regurgitation is, we think, new ; and there are many others of a similar kind. But scientific terms ought to be used accurately, and we may, therefore, point out that the Turdiclx are a family and not a "genus," and that whales do not feed on " infusoria." It would require more space than we can spare even to mention a few of the theories which Mr. Selous advances, and to make our criticisms. The book must be recommended to our ornithological readers, who cannot fail, as we have said, to find it extremely interesting and original.
We must pass on to botany, and the first volume of a new work by Mr. Edward Step. Wild Flowers, Month by Month, describes rambles with a camera from March to June on the chalk hills of Surrey, by the riverside, in the woods, and on the Cornish coast. Mr. Step has carried the art of photo- graphing wild plants in their natural haunts to great perfection. More than one hundred and sixty specimens of his work adorn the book. The introductory chapter gives some useful directions. Not much can be done with a hand- camera. Long exposures are needed by yellows, reds, and greens, or in the dim light of the woods. Colour-corrected plates (isocbromatic or orthocbromatic) are absolutely necessary, and a yellow screen should be used with these, or yellow flowers will print black and blue flowers solid white without any detail. Although the photographs are the feature of the book, the text is readable and instructive for the beginner, whose eyes will be opened to much. It is well that besides the vulgar the Latin names are given, without which all botany is futile. The sooner the beginner learns them the better. The book is mostly descriptive, but the reader is told, for instance, how toothwort (Lath/wt. squamaria) still grows in Westhumble Lane, near Dorking, at the same spot where John Ray, the naturalist, found it two centuries ago: We are disappointed that Mr. Step does not conduct us from there to find Teucrium botrys, a Labiate, and one of the rarest British plants. The reader is told, also, how Veronica Buzbaumii, now so common, came over from the Continent only eighty years ago ; how Schwen- dener's views on lichens are now accepted by cryptogamio botanists ; and how the milk-thistle was formerly cultivated and eaten like an artichoke. Information of this kind is welcome to beginners, in a book which contains much rather commonplace descriptive writing, with a slightly professorial style and rather strained humorous sallies.
The late Dr. Hoffmann's Amateur Gardener's Rose Book has been very well translated from the German, and is prettily illustrated with woodcuts and fine coloured plates printed at Stuttgart. The English rose-grower, who cannot fail to profit by a work which is characterised by real German thoroughness, must bear in mind the difference between the climates of Great Britain and the German Empire.
Lastly, we may mention Mrs. McMurry's Nature Study Lessons, which consist of an almost incredible number of ques- tions (occasionally with answers) about plants and animals, intended to develop the curiosity and intelligence of young children. As the book is American, and many of the subjects of the lessons are unknown to English children, we need hardly add that it is unsuitable for this side of the Atlantic.