Here, There, and Everywhere

by Lord Frederic Hamilton. New York: George H. Doran. 1921. 8vo, xiid+332 pp. $4.00.
THEY are not literary, or freighted with panaceas for social ills; they are not too informative; they have no mission — these books of Lord Frederic Hamilton. But, to a public wearied with Main Streets and their sordidness, with problem stories and dramas, with sex triangles, and economic consequences of war, they come as a happy diversion. To the much-quoted ‘tired business man,’ for whom musical comedies were invented, now that this amusement is decadent, these books should prove refreshing. A book that one can open haphazard, and read in either direction with interest on every page, has its appeal.
An accomplished traveler from childhood, when his father, the Duke of Abercorn, would make the grand tour in his own ponderous coach, our author has traveled over every country and sailed the Seven Seas. As he says, ‘ Now he can claim the roaming freedom of the fireside muser, for he can, in one second, slip from continent to continent, and float over gaps — just as the spirit moves him’; and that is what he does in these books, filling in the narrative with personal sketches of adventures in every land: now shooting tigers as guest of a maharajah in India; then admiring Himalaya sunsets; again, telling of Lord Kitchener making a garden paradise to bloom in a desert, to entertain a garden party of 1500; then away to flowery Ceylon, to China, to the Volga, with its Mississippi River steamboats.
The three travel-books are almost equally of interest: Vanished Pomps of Yesterday treats of Lord Frederic’s life as a diplomat in European courts, giving glimpses of him in Berlin, Vienna, Russia; sleeping one night in a close peasant cabin whose only furniture is a stove, the next night dancing at the Winter Palace. In Days Before Yesterday his life as the son of the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland puts us on intimate terms with a healthy normal family. The picture of the brother of Lord Frederic standing on his head to win the applause of Queen Victoria, when he was presented to her in the Viceregal Lodge at Dublin, is a typical story. Though he did not win the plaudits of the Queen, he showed the same pride in achievement that would be displayed by any Gavroche of the lower world. Though the sons of a landed proprietor of 26,000 acres, these boys had the same homely virtues as any healthy youth of to-day.
We find most attractive the story of this versatile man, who can adapt himself to making, with infinite pains, an ice-palace for his niece in Canada, and who, in the Great War, though too old to fight, yet serves as a constable in the streets of London. We like the picturesque vigor of his narrative. Such books are healthy; they constitute a ‘good gesture,’ and should induce some degree of toleration, even from most violent radicals.