BOTANY, BIRDS, AND ANGLING* THOSE of our readers who combine
tastes for botany, birds, and angling are fortunate persons. For their benefit we propose to notice shortly a number of recently issued books that may be classed under those three heads. Let us begin with a striking book on Wild Flowers of the British Isles, by Miss Isabel Adams. We find no mention of a second volume, but it is to be hoped that Miss Adams intends to complete her illustrations of our flora, which so far end with the Compositx. The increasing army of field botanists who like coloured plates will await it with impatience. Her book does not compete, of course, with Bentham or Hooker's hand- books; but it is sufficiently scientific to enable serious botanists to recommend it to beginners. There are some eighty full-page plates in this quarto volume. We have seen few flower drawings (always excepting Curtis's Flora Londinensis) that have given us so much pleasure to look at. From one to half-a-dozen plants are figured on a page ; but Miss Adams manages to keep the character of each species distinct, and the grouping is often full of skill and grace. We have nothing but praise for the colouring, especially the various greens. The yellow of the rock-rose is beautiful, and the more subdued mauves and pinks are excellent. It is all slightly conventional, but gives a truer * (1) Wild Flowers of the British Isles. Illustrated and Written by H. Isabel Adams, F.L.S. Revised by James E. Baguet!, A.L.S. London : W. Heine- mann. [308. net.]—(2) Nature's Own Gardens. Written and Illustrated in Colour and Line by Maud U. Clarke. London; J. M. Dent and Co. [21s. net.]—(3) Flowers of the Field. By the Rev. C. A. Johns. Revised throughout and Edited by Clarence Elliot. With 02 Coloured Illustrations by E. N. Gwatkin, and 245 Cuts in the text. London :George Routledge and Sons. [7s. 65. net.]—(4) Manual of British Grasse.. By W. J. Gordon. With Coloured Illustration of every Species and many Original Diagrams by J. T. Gordon. London : Simpkin, Marshall, and Co. [6s. net.]— (5) Bird- his of the Borders. By Abel Chapman, F.Z.S. With Coloured Map and numerous Illustrations. A New Edition. London : Gurney and Jackson. [14s. net.]—(6) Woodtanders and Fieldfolk. By John Watson and Blanche Winder. With 40 Illustrations. London T. Fisher Unwin. rsio. net.1— (7) The Birds of the British Islands. By Charles Stonham, C.M.G., F.R.C.S.. F.Z.S. With Illustrations by I, M. Median& Parts I.-VI. London : E. Grant Richards. [78. 65. each part.]—(8) The British Warblers. By H. Eliot Howard, F.Z.S., M.B.O.U. Illustrated by Henrik Grouvold. Part I. London; R. H. Porter. [21s. net..1—(9) Wild Life at Home. New and Revised Edition. By R. Kearton, F.Z.S. Fully Illustrated by Photographs taken direct from Nature by Cherry Kearton. London: Cassell and Co. [6s.]—(10) Pictures irons Nature's Garden. By H. W. Shepheard-Walwyn, M.A. With 78 Photo- graphs by the Author. London john Long. [6s.] —(11) Birds of the Countryside. By Frank Finn, B.A., F.Z.S. With 12 Coloured Plates, 118 Illustrations from Photographs, and numerous Outline Drawings. London : Hutchinson and Co. [5a. net.]—(12) Row to Fish. By W. Earl Hodgson. With 8 Full-page Illustrations from Photographs, and 18 Smaller Engravings in the text. London A. and C. Black. 13s. 6d. net.]—(13) Salmon Fishing. By John James Hardy. London: Country Life Offices and George Newnes. [6s. net.]
effect than many an attempt at realism. The stalks are sometimes drawn too thick. For instance, in Limon eathartiewm the pedicels should be the merest threads. We regret that, though there is a description of every species in all the orders that are dealt with, only about a third are represented in the plates.
It is impossible to avoid a comparison between this book and the next on our list, Nature's Own Gardens, also by a lady. Miss Clarke has written a big book and painted some fifty pictures, which show her love of wild flowers. To paint flowers in water-colour is a soothing pastime, but to publish the results of one's work is to invite criticism as a pro- fessional. Judged by this standard, Miss Clarke is below the average. It is because we feel as intensely as she does the beauty of a wood full of wild hyacinths that we take exception to her work. To the writer the effect of such a wood is a lake of grey blue or dark blue, according to the light, melting into the surrounding green, not a lot of shape- less purplish specks on a green and white ground. The foxgloves and the poppies • are quite inadequately represented in these pictures. They should look like a mass of glorious colour. The same remark applies still more to the heather. In the ragged•-robin, the campion, and the rose-bay willow herb, white patches, irregularly outlining the flowers, take away any effect of Nature. In the devil's-bit scabious the white patches are avoided, and the result is a pleasant piece of colour. The hemp-agrimony deserves a word of praise. The text is written in an involved and high-flown style, which may occasionally puzzle the understanding of many readers.
A new and revised edition of Flowers of the Field, by the Rev. C. A. Johns, calls for a short notice. We do not quite like the old familiar book in its new heavy form and hideous binding. " Johns " is not a scientific or a complete hand- book ; but it has helped many dabblers in botany. The revision, by Mr. Clarence Elliot, of the text was needed, and it appears to be well done. We notice a few misprints in the Latin names. The little old cuts are preserved, but we can only find moderate praise for the ninety-two new coloured plates. Perhaps they will help to attract the class of botanist for whom they are no doubt intended.
The same remarks apply to the somewhat gaudy coloured plates in Mr. W. J. Gordon's Manual of British Grasses. The uncoloured drawings of the spikelets, on the other hand, are clear and characteristic. Mr. Gordon adopts a method, which he has used in his other popular botanical and zoological works, of enabling the unlearned to sort out and name any species of British grass from the hundred-and-one other British species. In this his manual will be fairly successful, though the grasses are more difficult to deal with and not so attrac- tive to the amateur botanist as other phanerogams. The arrangement and nomenclature of Bentham are followed, which are undoubtedly the best in a work of this kind.
The next book that claims our attention is a new edition of an old work on ornithology. Amidst the flood of valueless books about birds that are published it is pleasant to see a new, and in part rewritten, edition of a work of real merit. Bird-life of the Borders first saw the light in 1889. Mr. Abel Chapman has now over forty years of notes to draw upon, and he has taken great care in revising a work that bids fair to become classic. It is delightful reading, and describes the wild life of Northumbria to perfection. Migration, shooting, fishing, wild-fowling, and the habits of birds are written of with an intimate knowledge that few can hope to acquire.
In striking contrast to Mr. Chapman's work we may place Woodlanders and Fieldfolk. It is the sort of book that is eagerly devoured by the innocent general reader with a taste for outdoor literature, but which provokes the critic and tries the patience of the naturalist. One cannot turn over many pages without finding some statement which is questionable, incorrect, or absurd. There is much fine flowery descriptive writing. Sometimes it is obvious that the writer has mis- apprehended the exact meaning of the words he or she is using. We do not know what portions of these sketches of wild life in Britain must be attributed to Mr. John Watson and what portions to the lady whose name also appears on the title-page. We suspect a female pen when we read : "What a gentle, soft-eyed creature is the cow ! A picture of sweet contentment the huge ruminant suggests, as it stands belly- deep in golden buttercups! How dewy its nose, delicately fringed its ears, and white gleaming its horns!" A male pen, no doubt, is responsible for many dubious assertions about mountain foxes and otters. It may be "a curious fact," but it is certainly not "one perhaps hitherto unrecorded," that " Reynard's whereabouts is often made apparent by carrion crows" which mob him. Peter Beckford noticed this a century ago. We can find little to say in favour of this sort of book, except that the authors are doubtless lovers of Nature. We could fill columns in pointing out faults. Let us turn to something more worthy of attention.
Among recent works on the ornithology of this country, The Birds of the British Islands, by Mr. Charles Stonham, is most noteworthy. The first half-dozen of the splendid quarto parts are published. It is to be completed in twenty parts, which will form four volumes. The price to those who subscribed in advance is £6 15s. This is a large sum for a popular book, thought we do not suggest that it is too much. When there are already so many works on British birds in the field, it is difficult to judge a new one fairly. Our verdict is, however, favourable, and we shall hope on some future occasion to be able to notice the conclusion of the work. The author has evidently taken great pains. He is an eminent surgeon with a
taste for ornithology. His text supplies the information which is required. It is well written, and shows observation of birds' habits. He passes over rare and accidental visitors with a reference to the records. Each species truly British receives a page or two. There is rather less information than is to be found in Mr. Howard Sa.unders's Manual, and much less than in Yarrell or Seebohm. On the other hand, the text, though short, is trustworthy. The authorities are not quoted for every statement ; but this is unnecessary in a popular work. It is, however, by the plates that the book will be judged. These are by Miss Lilian M. Medland. The list of real British birds, from the missel-thrush to the magpie, has been worked through so far; and each species is depicted in a full-page, and generally life-size, drawing. These pictures are lifelike and well proportioned. They are also extremely pleasing artisti- cally. But they are uncoloured. No plates of birds in black and white can be wholly satisfactory for purposes of rapid identification. We must, however, accent what an author gives us, and not demand what he does not profess to supply. The plates are excellent; but to be satisfactory we think coloured plates essential in a book of this nature.
We feel this all the more when we turn to the next book that must be noticed. The attention of ornithologists should be drawn to Mr. H. Eliot Howard's magnificent monograph on The British Warblers, although, unfortunately, few will be able to pay so much as a guinea a part. Part I., which was published last February, deals only with two species, the
sedge-warbler and grasshopper-warbler. The text is excellent, and contains interesting and original observations. Mr.
Howard holds views of his own on the question of sexual selection, which he urges with some force, in opposition to the generally accepted views. The first part contains a plate of eggs, admirably reproduced in colours by W. Greve of Berlin.
The other illustrations are of the birds, and are thirteen in number, of which two are coloured. They are all by Mr.
Henrik Gronvold, a Danish artist, who is destined to bold a place in the front rank as an illustrator of zoological works.
It is a long step front painting to photography. We can imagine no more innocent recreation than taking photographs of grasshoppers, or barnacles, or even birds. Mr. Keitrton, who was one of the first to discover the possibilities of the camera in that direction, has produced a new and revised edition of Wild Life at Home. It contains the fullest advice concerning apparatus, cliff-climbing, methods of concealment, and all that experience has taught Mr. Kearton in obtaining photographs of our mammals, birds, fishes, reptiles, amphi- bians, and invertebrates. The little volume is profusely illustrated by his brother, and contains a mass of useful information for those who desire to follow in Mr. Kearton's tracks. We may also mention Pictures from Nature's Garden, illustrated with photographs, by Mr. H. W. Shepheard- Walwyn. These are stories, for the most part about animals, which have been reprinted front the Animal World. The humour is of a kind suitable for children, for whom they are probably intended. In the little handbook of British birds which Mr. Frank Finn has named Birds of the Countryside we regret to find the unscientific and inconvenient plan of arranging birds according to the places where they are found. It is a hope- less and a useless task to attempt to separate birds found "in towns and gardens" from those to be seen "by wayside or woodland." There is a chapter on classification at the end, but a list of the species in proper order is lacking. The book is mainly intended as a means of enabling the beginner to identify the birds most commonly come across in this country. The text is pleasantly written, and well suited to fulfil the object which the author has in view. Mr. Finn is already known as a writer on the ornithology of India, where he held an office in the Calcutta Museum. The illustrations are for the most part photographs of living or stuffed birds gathered from various sources. Some of them seem familiar to us. The coloured plates are stiff and crude.
We have left ourselves very little space to deal with the angling books. Some time ago we reviewed another book by Mr. W. Earl Hodgson, and we are glad to observe that, as he refers to them, our criticisms have not fallen on deaf ears. The former book was, however, rather better worth reading than How to Fish, which is, by the way, a singularly ill- chosen title. The volume contains little that can be of service to those who are beginners in the art, and many pages of disquisitions and dialogues, which, we venture to think, most readers will find rather tedious. Mr. Hodgson excels in fishing with the sunk fly, and it is obvious that he has had more experience of Scotch lochs than of South Country chalk-streams. He still persists in believing that those who object to the use of three wet-flies on a Hampshire trout-stream, like the Test or the Itchen, do so because too many fish would be caught by that method. In one of his chapters he makes great fun of the "dry-fly purist," some of which is amusing enough. But if one is expected to take him quite seriously, it may as well be said plainly that Mr. Hodgson is too little acquainted with the conditions which usually prevail on chalk-streams to make his views of much value. It is not the fact, as be states, that "the Tay or the Tweed in ordinary flow is as clear as the Test or the Itchen in ordinary flow." Nor is it true that, "though various in size, all streams are astonishingly alike ; and the ways of fish in one of them are similar to the ways of fish in any other." On the contrary, almost all streams vary, and the ways of Hampshire trout are quite different from those of Sutherland or Northumberland in several respects. Mr. Hodgson makes merry over what be calls the "educated trout" theory. But does any one seriously deny that trout which are constantly fished for become cunning and cautious ? On much-fished chalk- streams the " gut-shy " fish is well known. He is off as soon as the gut-cast catches his eye, and before he has caught sight of the artificial fly or the angler. Some of Mr. Hodgson's notions are so absurd that he himself abandons them after a certain number of pages have been devoted to their discussion. We need but mention his proposal to compile a calendar showing what flies would be on the water, not only for each week, but for each separate day, of the season. The experienced advice of Mr. Marston and Mr. Hardy seems to have dissuaded him from attempting this. It is when Mr. Hodgson writes of angling entomology that lie displays the most amazing want of knowledge. He laughs at the modern angler or " purist " who says " sub-irimgo " for "half-fledged" and "pupte " for "grubs." Now "sub-imago" does not mean "half-fledged," as Mr. Hodgson seems to think, and the old anglers' term for the sub-imago form of the Ephemeridaa was "a dun." Moreover, the scientific word for " grubs " is larvm, and not " pupw," as Mr. Hodgson appar- ently suggests. Again, we find Mr. Hodgson writing of "the Ephemeridm," the Trichoptera ' and the Vnlgata ' of various species " ; apparently believing that Vulgata is the Latin name for a family or order of insects. As a matter of fact, it is the specific name of a species of Mayfly (Ephemera vulgata), and has no meaning in the connexion in which he uses it. Of course Mr. Hodgson does not claim to be a scientific entomologist, but then he should not attack those who know a little more than be does. The experienced angler will find a good deal that is amusing amidst much that is wearisome in Mr. Hodgson's book. We cannot say honestly that it will teach the novice bow to fish. Mr.
Hodgson has learnt the advantages of using flies on eyed books; perhaps he may some day alter some other opinions
which he holds in opposition to the views of the most experienced fishermen. With much that he says on the merits of the sunk fly under certain conditions we are in complete agreement.
Mr. Hardy's book on Salmon Fishing is severely practical, and concerns itself more with tackle than with problems about salmon. It is such a book as one alight expect from the pen of a partner in the famous firm of Hardy Brothers of Alnwick. We recognise some of the illustrations, and parts of the book have appeared in the "Country Life Library of Sport." Mr. Hardy begins with a lesson in dressing salmon-flies, which is not an easy art to impart in print. His figures and instruc- tions are as clear as can be expected. He ends with a list of dressings of three hundred and forty-five different salmon-flies, which is more curious than useful to the practical angler. In the art of casting be is of course well qualified to give lessons, since he has won more prizes in tournaments than any other man. But of this kind of competition he truly remarks : "As a sport it is excellent, but has little to.do with actual fishing." Again, on all that appertains to rods and the latest inventions in the way of reels Mr. Hardy's words carry weight. The most interesting chapters, to our mind, are those on "Fishing the Salmon Fly in Low Water" and on "Spinning for Salmon." These are both branches of salmon-fishing which need greater art than is ordinarily required of the salmon- fisher. We do not agree with some of Mr. Hardy's remarks on why salmon take the fly. But the end of a long article is no place to begin discussing salmon problems.