20 SEPTEMBER 1940, Page 20

Sea Urchin : The Adventures of Jorgen Jorgensen. By Rhvi

Davies. (Duckworth. 8s. 6d.) IT was the fate of Jorgen Jorgensen to flourish when the Romantic revival was sweeping Europe. Disdaining his oval little Denmark, he fixed his love and ambition on England, land of heroes, of princely patrons of the arts like his adored Sir Joseph Banks. England tried him hard. He was pressed into the Navy, disappointed in patrons, cheated at cards (till he learned to cheat back), thrown into filthy prisons, and finally deported to Van Diemen's Land, which as a sailor under Bowen he had helped to found. His devotion, rather touchingly, sur- vived it all. If his character was always liable to misjudgement, that was because of some quality which common men could not understand. This quality, he decided on reflection, was Genius. Seen through impartial eyes, the gigantic explorer-conqueror, philosopher-scholar of his self-portrait dwindles to the stance of a picturesque rascal with courage, unlimited cheek, a Passim) for cant and a prose style that has done more than all his mis- deeds to spoil his reputation. A man who had only to visit Iceland to make himself king, who was present at Waterloo, mer Goethe, helped to found a colony and confirm the existence of Bass Straits—a man to whom such things and a thousand others happened should have written some of the best adventure books in the language. Instead he lived the life of a more adventurous Casanova and left the books of a polysyllabic bore. Mr. Daviel has told his story vividly, with a pleasant humour, and a s° ness for that construction (" Cured, the French charitable insu tution gave him some clothes," " Reaching Metz, Germany 2 once pleased him") which avoids the commonplace at th expense of syntax and sense.