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SUCCESSFUL attempt has recently been made to bring before the British public a collection of stories and sketches by Australian writers resident in England. The present volume takes a wider range. All the tales now presented are from the pens of writers who, if not actually born in the Colonies, have at least had practical experience of Colonial life, and are personally familiar with the scenes which form the background and permeate the action of their respective productions. All save one of the pieces here included have for their basis incidents of life and adventure, not in Australia alone, but in the great sister dependencies of New Zealand and British North America. The volume may therefore claim a greater breadth of interest than could attach to a collection based upon the experiences of one colony or group of colonies merely. The extreme similarity of life and habitude in all the widely separated sections of Greater Britain is nevertheless a most striking

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feature, and cannot fail to impress the most casual reader; for take away the physical surroundings, and vary a few local terms and pseudonyms, and the whole bent and morale of one colony is as nearly as possible identical with the bent and morale of every other. The uniformity thus discoverable rather tends to enhance than to destroy interest; proving, as it does, that our emigrant population are impressing the same type upon the most diverse races and in the most distant settlements, and that it is not by accident, but by the possession of inherent backbone and indispensable qualifications that Englishmen have vindicated their claim to be considered the first of colonizing peoples. The prevailing appetite for personal details respecting authors is becoming every day more keen, so that even in the case of a collection of short stories it seems necessary to touch, however briefly, on the personnel of the writers.

Mr. B. L. Farjeon needs no fresh introduction to the reading public of Great, or Greater Britain, his name being a household word in connection with a distinct and most enthralling class of sensational fiction. Belonging purely, as his best-known productions do, to English literature, his fleeting experiences in Australia and New Zealand form but a passing episode in his varied and enterprizing career. Going first to the gold-fields of Victoria, where the scene of the story here given is laid, Mr. Farjeon had the usual experience of

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the ups and downs of Colonial life, until ultimately he approached more nearly to his true vocation as a journalist in New Zealand, in which colony he became associated with Sir Julius Vogel, the ex-premier, who, after a career of great practical distinction, has recently invaded what, by a figure of speech, are called the flowery paths of literature, and is about to publish a romance with the à la Jules Verne title and purport of A.D. 2000. With this indefatigable politician Mr. Farjeon was associated in the proprietorship of the Otago Daily Times, one of the most influential and intelligently conducted of existing New Zealand journals. Mr. Farjeon's later career since his return to England has been marked by the production of a succession of tales, which need not be further particularized than to say that they form so many milestones in an exceptionally rapid and triumphal progress in public favour and appreciation.

The name of C. Haddon Chambers, who contributes three short stories, was comparatively unknown two or three years ago. To-day it is familiar to all. This circumstance is mainly attributable to the production in June of last year at the Haymarket Theatre of this young writer's original four-act play “Captain Swift,” which, splendidly played by Mr. Beerbohm-Tree and a carefully selected company, secured the emphatic approval of the critics, and a success with the play-going public almost unexampled in this generation. The success of “Captain Swift” is

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often compared to that of Sir Charles Young's “Jim the Penman”; and when it is remembered that at the time the latter play was produced its author was past middle age and a dramatist of many years' standing, whereas the author of “Captain Swift” is, to employ the language of one of the critics, “scarcely more than a boy,” it is not surprising that in these latter days, in which people complain of the decadence of the English drama, and of the too persistent appearance of adaptations from the French and German on the English stage, the youthful author of so powerful, polished, human, and interesting a play as “Captain Swift” should receive so warm and enthusiastic a welcome from critics and lovers of the drama as Mr. Haddon Chambers has experienced. Charles Haddon Chambers is a son of the late John Ritchie Chambers, a North Irish gentleman of Scotch descent, who for the last twenty years of his life held a high position in the New South Wales Civil Service. The future dramatist went to the public schools in Sydney, and at the age of sixteen qualified for the Civil Service by passing the necessary examinations at the Sydney University. Since then he has played many parts, all of which doubtless helped to qualify him for the career he has finally adopted, and in which he is already so eminently successful. He has been, among other things, a clerk in the New South Wales Civil Service, a land agent, a boundary rider, a miner, and a journalist. He has

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lived in most of the Australian colonies, and has been in Cape Colony and Egypt. Mr. Haddon Chambers, who landed in London four or five years since with only a quill pen in his pocket, proved in a short time that he could succeed both as a journalist and a novelist. His contributions to society papers in London and to the Sydney Bulletin (which paper he represented for some time) were much esteemed, and the many short and serial stories he wrote found a ready market among the magazines; but a tentative effort at dramatic writing in the shape of a one-act play proved so successful that characteristically he abandoned everything for the writing of plays. The result has more than justified his pluck and judgment, and to-day, on the success of almost one great play alone, Mr. Haddon Chambers, though still in his twenties, stands in the first rank of contemporary dramatists. Many moving and successful plays from his pen may be expected; but readers of his early stories still hope also to find his name on the covers of some novels.

Coming to the widely known author of “Ginx's Baby,” who contributes a Canadian story to the present collection, one trenches per force as much on the domain of English and Imperial politics as on that of literature. Mr. Edward Jenkins may be said to be by his birth and experiences a typical Imperialist Briton. He was born in Bangalore, East Indies, on July 28th, 1838, and after living at Malta and in England was in his

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ninth year attending school at Montreal in Canada. There he was educated at the High School, and at McGill University, and subsequently read for the Bar at the University of Pennsylvania. On the outbreak of the Civil War, Mr. Jenkins abandoned his intention of remaining in America, and went to London, where he entered at Lincoln's Inn, and, having been called to the Bar in 1864, practised successfully for some years. But, coming fresh from the new societies of America, Mr. Jenkins, who had not been in England from his childhood, had his eyes open to many things which from familiarity pass unnoticed by the most intelligent people who are brought up among them. Contrasting the conditions of labour and poverty in Great Britain with those of the United States and Colonies, he was led to study the subjects of Emigration and of the relations of the Colonies to Great Britain. In this connection he became the leading spirit of an organization known as the Emigration League; which, whilst advocating the transfer of the surplus population of this country to our great dependencies beyond the seas, by a natural corollary ardently identified itself with the opposition to the disintegration policy ably championed by Professor Goldwin Smith, and practically adopted by the then Liberal Government. Among the prominent advocates of the League was Sir George Grey, a man of extraordinary eloquence, and in other respects one of the most remarkable

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proconsuls ever sent forth to a British dependency, his career in New Zealand displaying the unexampled spectacle of a governor descending from the vice-throne to the political forum, and becoming premier of the Colony in which he had been the Queen's representative. In company with Sir George Grey and other like-minded apostles of the new gospel, who, in fact, were the precursors of the modern Imperial federationists, Mr. Jenkins stumped the country, and was largely instrumental in convincing the public mind of the advantages attaching to the retention of our Colonial Empire. Meantime, on Home questions Mr. Jenkins showed strong reforming tendencies, which found a popular expression in his “Ginx's Baby,” figuring forth, as it does with uncommon candour, the only too common fate of the “slum” child, between the kicks and knocks of a hard world, and the muddled philanthropy and mistaken religious zeal, which are scarcely more merciful in their treatment. “Little Hodge” and “Lord Bantam” followed, the three forming a kind of trilogy, the town labourer, the agricultural labourer, and the privileged class being each symbolized in the three babies, whose tragic and humorous histories are known wherever the English tongue is spoken. The success of these books was assured and remarkable. “Ginx's Baby” has been translated into Russian, German, Italian, French, Hungarian, Spanish, and the Scandinavian languages. Following these came,

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in one season, two fresh successes—“The Blot on the Queen's Hand,” of which, in a few weeks, nearly one hundred thousand copies were sold; and “The Devil's Chain,” which reached its twenty-fifth thousand, in its dearer form, in the course of a few months.

In 1880, on the dissolution owing to the defeat of the Beaconsfield Government, Mr. Jenkins's health obliged him to retire, and he devoted himself to literary and other pursuits. In the comparative quiet of succeeding years Mr. Jenkins's views on some political questions became modified; and he was unable to follow the Liberal party in its new developments. More recently Mr. Jenkins has edited the Overland and Homeward Mails. His later books are not in the vein of his early satires, being studies rather of men and manners. “Jobson's Enemies” was written to exhibit the extraordinary variety and widespread ramifications of society and relations in the British Empire. “A Paladin of Finance” is a story which the Academy said was the best French novel ever written out of France, and we believe was founded on facts. “A Week of Passion” and “A Secret of Two Lives” have since followed.

Madame Couvreur, whose maiden name was Miss Jessie Huybers, is a native of the most Edenlike (not exactly in the Dickens sense) of island colonies, Tasmania, where her family occupied a prominent position, and where, and

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in the more pushing adjacent colony of Victoria, she spent her life until the last ten years. Madame Couvreur began about a dozen years ago to contribute occasional essays and tales to Australian periodicals, with whose readers, under the nom de plume of “Tasma,” she became a universal favourite. Coming to Europe, she lectured upon Australia in Paris, under the auspices of the Geographical Society of that city. She also contributed to the Nouvelle Revue, adhering in all her published productions in Europe to her old pseudonym “Tasma.” Three years ago she was married to Monsieur Couvreur, the distinguished Belgian publicist, with whom she lives in Brussels a life of lettered and refined simplicity.

Mr. H. B. Marriott Watson, who personifies literary New Zealand, where he has spent most of his life, was born in 1863 in the Melbourne suburb of Caulfield, of which his father, himself an author of repute, was the Anglican incumbent. Mr. Watson went at nine years of age to Christ-church, New Zealand, where he was educated at the Grammar School and at Canterbury College, where he graduated in 1882. Three years later Mr. Watson came to London, and commenced a journalistic career by contributing a poem to Punch. In December 1887 a romance, which he had written during the previous few months, was accepted by Messrs. Longmans, and published by them under the title “Marahuna.” It has been very favourably received, and is likely

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to be the precursor of a series of successful works of fiction.

Mr. Edmund Rawson, who contributes a Queensland sketch, makes no pretensions to literary finish; but he depicts with graphic pencil scenes and incidents of which he has been an observant, and far from unintelligent, eye-witness.

Enough has been said of the personnel of the writers, and it now only remains to express the hope that what has been written may commend itself to the constantly increasing numbers who have either themselves visited, or who have friends and relatives in one or other of the great dependencies, some of the characteristic phases of which are here described, and in which the scene of all but one of the stories is laid.

Whatever may be the results of the present agitation, which in one direction tends to the initiation of closer relations, and in another to the snapping of the existing bonds between the colonies and the mother country, one thing is certain, that for a generation or two at least Colonial literature—or the literature of any one particular colony—will establish no claim to be regarded as a distinct entity; but that, on the contrary, for many years to come the productions of Colonial writers will continue to form but an item in the great sum of English literature, and to find their chief and most receptive market in the Old World. None the less, however, Colonial writers individually may be expected to contribute

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valuably to English literature. They have already given an earnest of their quality; and in the meantime the colonies have afforded inspiration to such accomplished English authors as Henry Kingsley and Rider Haggard, to mention no others; whilst they themselves have produced such a novelist as Mrs. Campbell Praed, of whom Queenslanders are justly proud. It is with a view to illustrating what Colonial writers can accomplish in one department of literature that the present volume has been produced.