31 MAY 1930, Page 27

A Scottish School Inspector

Tales and Travels of a School Inspector. By John Wilson; M.A. (Glasgow : Jackson, Wylie and Co. 7s. 8d.) IN this chatty and breezy volume, Mr. Wilson looks back over his forty years' `experience as a school inspector, during which time he visited an immense number of schools of different kinds in half the counties of Scotland. If conditions were difficult and exacting for the inspector years ago, at least his calling did not lack the spice of variety, or even of danger. Travel in the Highlands is not always too easy in these' days of the ubiquitous motor-car ; but, in pre-petrol times, the difficulties were often such as to daunt all but the pluckiest and most pertinacious adventurer. Mr. Wilson never allowed anything to stand between himself and his duty, and he gives us many interesting stories about long and frequently hazardous journeys by foot and on horseback. Sometimes, when he was lucky, he would get a " lift " over a lonely mountain pass in the mail dog-cart. At other times, a sleigh would be brought into commission. One intensely cold night was spent in the guard's brake-van of a goods train that- stopped to shunt at every station, while, on another occasion, the local hearse was the only available vehicle.

Travel by sea was even worse. For his visits to some of the islands a yacht was placed at his disposal. Its skipper, a Southerner, refused to study the local charts or to take Mr. Wilson's advice, and it was only his supremely able seamanship that extricated him in- the nick of time from the perils which he would do nothing to avoid. Among the writer's most vivid pictures is that of a voyage through raging seas to Heisker, where he had to examine fifteen fair-haired children who saw no stranger, save the inspector himself, from one year's end to another. It was hi' ieturiiing one "evening from Heisker that Mr. Wilson's love of lobster nearly .cost him his life.: But that is .a story which readers must disebVer for themSeIvei.

Mr. Wilson gives us many graphic impressions of Scottish life and Character. . He recalls_ the time - when Free Church ministers denonneed singing and reftised to hair& Organs in their churches, bid would solemnly bless the whisky at a feast ! He brings poignantly before us, again, the evils of the " grant ". system, under which teachers, paid by results, " would endeavour by hook or by crook, the synonYin for bullying and corporal punishment, to cram into their puPils sufficient to ensure that the exactions of Her Majesty's emissary would be met." That is the one dark spot in the history of Scottish education. To its many lighter and noble aspects Mr. Wilson pays full justice.