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LITERATURE: TRAVEL.

THE revelation of the secret of Lhasa has been made the text of many homilies on the contraction of the modern world. Travel, we are told, has now lost the atmosphere of romance. Now that the mysteries of the sacred city of Tibet have been unveiled to the reader of every one-cent news-sheet, it seems as though the would-be explorer of the future must give up all ambition to win the fame of a discoverer and content himself with becoming a mere reporter of scenes that have already been described by earlier pilgrims. "Upon the crust of this globe of ours," says a London journal, "nothing is henceforth left to the human imagination. The Dalai Lama little knows how his humiliation is avenged. It has not cost us much money or many human lives to profane the sacred precincts of the Lamaitic Holy of Holies, but the inroad it has made on the diminishing hoard of our illusions is irreparable." The same paper speculates in an entertaining fashion on the prospect of the Tibetan Highlands becoming exploited for the purpose of new sanatoria for consumptives, and Lhasa itself being added to the list of favorite holiday resorts of our millionaires.

Ten years ago a forecast of organized tours to Khartoum would have appeared equally extravagant, but that strange development of the commercial spirit is already flourishing. John Stuart Mill is related to have been much distressed by the thought that, within a few generations, all possible musical combinations of the notes of the octave would have been used up, and there would no longer be any possibility of original composition. In the same way, there are those who fear that the moment will soon arrive when a Livingstone or a Stanley will have to be satisfied with making his way through the forest by a path already blazed, or scaling heights from whose summit he will behold a scene long familiar to the frequenters of biograph entertainments in the Bowery.

Must we admit, then, that the fascination of travel is obsolete, and that there has perforce vanished with it the fascination of travel literature? Must we surrender to the devouring appetite of civilization and

progress all the charm of the mysterious and unexpected in the constitution of the world and its inhabitants? Are there no more any regions whose outline has not yet been delineated on the map and whose characteristics have not been described at length in the transactions of our geographical societies? In spite of the pessimistic opinion that everything knowable is known and everything discoverable discovered, a resolute man may yet set out upon a journey in some hope of enjoying the thrill of the pioneer. Though a trip to Lhasa may now be a mere second-hand excursion, there remain the North and South Poles and the Adirondacks, where a few weeks ago a young man was lost for six days and was only found by the employment of Indian trackers. When such an incident can occur within three hundred miles of New York, it is surely premature to lament that the seeker for hazardous experiences must desert the woods for Wall Street, and that there is no opportunity in these days of stumbling into a situation where a survival of aboriginal instincts is of value for self-preservation.

The real danger threatening to displace the literature of travel from the position it has gained as one of the most attractive forms of writing springs not from any exhaustion of the world as material of investigation, but rather from the growing tendency to encourage exploration from some motive beyond the satisfaction of curiosity and the exercise of the spirit of adventure. Political and commercial interests now intrude upon the traveller to a degree hitherto unknown. It is true, of course, that from the earliest known periods of history trade and the extension of empire have given a powerful stimulus to geographical discovery; but within comparatively recent times the desire to find new markets has been exceptionally intense and has been accompanied by a vast expansion of the area with which the foreign and colonial offices of the leading Powers are concerned. Accordingly, the book of travel pure and simple is becoming a rare type. The literature that describes the traversing of remote lands used to be devoured by readers who wanted their blood stirred; it now caters for the business man on the lookout for new markets. Take up almost any contemporary volume of travel, and before you reach the fiftieth page you find yourself studying the problems of world politics or skimming statistics of imports and exports. This is particularly illustrated just now in the case of Russia and Japan, which, in spite of their fascination to the foreigner who has an eye for strange scenes and strange people, are made by almost every one who writes about them to supply in the main an occasion for speculations about the balance of power in the East and the demand for manufactured

goods. By an odd revenge, the Western journalists sent out to chronicle the movement of history and the intrigues of Oriental statecraft are reduced to play the part of the mere globe-trotter and to fill their letters with descriptions of the groves of Nikko and the tall hats of Seoul.

The intrusion of political interests is likely to make against the success of Mr. Reginald Wyon's "THE BALKANS FROM WITHIN." Its dedication is "To the ashes of the Berlin Treaty." Its preface is occupied almost entirely with Balkan politics. The first of the four sections into which the body of the book is divided deals with "The Insurgent Provinces," and is principally concerned to show up the character of the Turkish Government. Any one whose main interest is in travel rather than in public affairs might therefore be excused for laying the book aside as a disguised political treatise. In so doing, however, he would rob himself of a great pleasure; for the later sections, dealing with "Montenegro," "Border Life in Montenegro," and "Albania," contain many chapters which will appeal powerfully to readers whose love of a striking situation is unmixed with any anxiety about diplomatic moves. It seems a pity that Mr. Wyon did not issue the less political part of the work as a volume by itself. If this were thought inadvisable, it would at least have been more effective to put this part first, and then the readers whom he had fascinated by the record of his experiences among the mountains would have been more likely to accept his guidanceeven, possibly, to accept his predictions concerning the provinces which are at present so great a perplexity to European statesmen.

Mr. Wyon is conspicuously successful in mastering what is one of the chief difficulties of the writer of travels the difficulty of adjusting the proportion of his own personality. If one puts himself too far in the background, the result is nothing more than a guide-book. On the other hand, if he is too much in the foreground, the result is a diary, and the reader is bored. It is by no means easy to escape these extremes of insipidity and egotism, and to give just such an amount of personal detail as is required to make the account of outside objects intelligible and vivid. In fact, to write a perfect travel sketch needs a gift of selection hardly inferior to that of the painter. The author of this volume never succumbs to the temptation to suppose that what was of interest to himself must needs be of interest to every one else; at the same time, no mock modesty prevents him from leaving a very distinct impression of his own part in the incidents he records.

1 New York: Imported by C. Scribner's Sons.

Mr. Wyon, we learn, is an Englishman and a correspondent of some of the leading English magazines, in whose pages several of these sketches first appeared. His travels in the Balkans have occupied the last few years, and, he hopes, will occupy many of the years to come. This desire indicates a type of character more than ordinarily fond of excitement, for in these regions even the most modern methods of travel would be fatal to any one troubled with heart disease. A nervous man taking a journey by train, for example, will find the railway officials distressingly communicative:

The station master will conduct him with much glee to the scene of the last dynamite outrage, and dilate on the awful effects of the explosion whilst standing on the shattered rafters of the ruined house. As the train creeps over a spidery viaduct, the conductor will tell of the mine providentially discovered just in the nick of time under one of these very arches the day before yesterday; and the engine-driver of a passing train, leaning out of his cab, cheerfully sings out to his brother driver how at kilometre 96 an Albanian regiment is amusing itself at the expense of the adjacent village.

There are many other trials to the nerves that have to be undergone by any visitor who would gain a real knowledge of the country and its people. To say nothing of the risks of travel pure and simple in such neighborhoods as the Rilo Mountains, it is plain that any one who goes about day by day in the midst of a people so wedded to the use of firearms that the discharge of a volley is the customary method of saying good-by must take his life in his hands. The general situation is well illustrated in Mr. Wyon's graphic account of the entraining of a regiment of Albanians at a railway station. As the train moves slowly out, within a few seconds it is veiled in a blue haze as the men empty their rifles in a parting fusillade into the town! Indeed, the strongest impression left by this book upon the reader is not so much even of the natural charm of the country or of the hospitality and simplicity of its inhabitants as of the insecurity of human life. The European residents in Turkey, especially the consuls, have a perpetual feeling, so we are told, that "something unpleasant is going to happen," and now and then it does happen.

The strength of the book is in those sections where, instead of attempting a continuous record, the author gives us a series of vignettes of the society of the Montenegrin or Albanian villages. Some of his pictures will not quickly fade from the memory. "Eastertide" is the title of a wonderful description of the visit of the Prince of Montenegro to the prison, where he inquires personally into the offences of the prisoners, and celebrates the sacred festival by granting pardons according to

his pleasure. The story of the liberation of a poor old woman from this jail is almost idyllic. An exhilarating and characteristic incident is that of a midnight attack on sheep-lifters at a ford. Mr. Wyon accompanies the party which punishes the marauders, and the next morning is taken again to the ford to see the corpses. He thus describes the exultation of one of the company:

"This will make good writing," says Petar, beaming, "will it not? And wilt thou speak of me?" I signify that he will be the hero of the story. "In England ye have no such fights?" he asks, rolling me a cigarette. "We have no borders," I explain. "It is an island." He looks disappointed. Plainly England sinks in his estimation, and I hurry to explain that in past days we had many such border raids when English and Scot were as Albanian and Montenegrin. "Then we have our colonies," I add, and tell him of tribal wars in Northern India, of the Dervishes and the Zulus, and what I could remember at the moment. He is impressed. "Then it must be good to be an Englishman," he says, nodding approvingly.

One of the surprises of the book is Mr. Wyon's account of his journey among one of the Roman Catholic clans in the north of Albania, whom he visited under the guidance of a Neapolitan friar at the time of their annual festival of San Stefano. In the heart of the wildest mountains of this country, he attended an outdoor mass which presented some strange contrasts. While solemn prayers were being chanted, hundreds of rifles and carbines were stacked against the walls of the neighboring house. Behind the crucifix upon the altar were peeping the muzzles of a dozen guns. In this district is a mountain which has not yet been explored, for the attempt to climb it means death. The clansmen around its base allow no stranger to pass. Yet this forbidden slope is but a few hours from Italy.

He tells a diverting story of the for years at Salonica, who reThis instruction naturally dis

The first section of the book, dealing with the conditions in the insurgent provinces of Turkey, is concerned with a situation which has been depicted over and over again by travellers and newspaper correspondents and therefore offers less attraction to the reader who is eager for novelties. Mr. Wyon confirms the general conviction of the utter corruption of the Turkish Government. commander of a small cruiser anchored ceived one day an order to take a cruise. turbed him, for he had sold the steamer's shaft some time before. meet the emergency he had a shaft made of wood, which he fervently prayed might break within the first few minutes. As the cruiser steamed out of the gulf, however, the wooden shaft, by some miracle, held firm, and the commander began to be alarmed, for it was not in his scheme that the collapse should come when he was out at sea. Accord

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