Land and Sea Tales for Boys and Girls

by Rudyard Kipling. Garden City: Doubleday, Page & Co. 1923. 8vo. ix+322 pp. $1.75.
A HODGEPODGE of short stories, poems, and essays is Rudyard Kipling’s new book, with at least one of each variety standing out like a crystal in pudding stone. In assembling the material, the distinguished author has reached deeply into his manuscript drawer, for side by side with work done since the close of the war stand stories written as long ago as 1893, when Kipling’s name was new in English literature and the critics were still striving to invent new phrases in praise of Plain Tales from the Hills, Soldiers Three, The Phantom Rickshaw, and Departmental Ditties. It is not unlikely that two of the stories appearing in the new book — ‘An Unqualified Pilot’ and ‘The Bold Prentice’ — were brought back from Bombay in 1890, when their author returned to England by way of China, Japan, and America.
Some readers may be disappointed in the book as a whole, but they can scarcely be disappointed in ‘The Son of His Father,’ the longest of the stories. Little Adam Strickland, son of an English superintendent of police in India, by the natives called Huzrut, — meaning Father, — is reminiscent of the immortal Kim. Like Kim he is possessed of wisdom beyond his years, and like Kim he contrives to make things come out as he would have them.
Another story with a special interest is ‘ Stalky, ‘ which, although it happens to be the first of the tales that Kipling wrote about those famous schoolboys, Stalky, McTurk, and Beetle, was not included in Stalky and Co.
Among the essays the crystal is ‘An English School,’ which describes the life at the United Services College at Westward Ho, where Kipling spent his school days.
Of the eight poems, the one that seems destined to the longest life is printed last — ‘ A Counting-Out Song,’ which uses an old familiar children’s rhyme for a new thought. The second verse indicates the theme: —
Eenee. Meenee, Mainee, and Mo
Were the First Big Four of the Long Ago,
When the Pole of the Earth sloped thirty degrees,
And Central Europe began to freeze,
And they needed Ambassadors staunch and stark
To steady the Tribes in the gathering dark;
But the frost was fierce and flesh was frail,
So they launched a Magic that could not fail.
(Singing) ‘Eenee, Meenee, Mainee, Mo!
Hear the wolves across the snow!
Someone has to kill ‘em — so
Eenee, Meenee, Mainee, Mo
Make — you — It!'
Report comes from England that Kipling’s decision to publish the collection before Christmas led to some interesting achievements in bookproduction. On October 23 the printers received the copy. In four days they had set the type and had started printing. Three days later five thousand copies were ready to be bound. America is not the only habitat of speed!
Much of the material in the book was probably not aimed first of all at a juvenile audience; but the author’s brief foreword, pointing the moral of his tales, bends them in that direction. With a changed title and the omission of the ‘morals,’ the book would do about as well for fathers and mothers as for boys and girls.