"Le Prix du Sang." By Commander Semenoff. Translation into French, by Commandant de Balincourt. Published by the Librarie Maritime et Coloniale, A. Challamel, Editor, 17 Rue Jacob, Paris. 3 fr. 50, postpaid.
This is the fourth and final volume purporting to be taken from Commander Semenoff's memorandum book of observations made during the Russo-Japanese War. While exaggerated and somewhat hysterical, this volume, equally with its predecessors, is interesting and well worth reading by students of the military art, as well as by those interested in the study of human nature.
The author's carping criticism of his Japanese captors and his ingratitude for their kind treatment are painful, especially in view of grave doubts as to how Japanese prisoners would have been treated in Russia, if the conditions had been reversed: they will be understood, however, by those who are under the strong influence of race antipathy.
Commander Balincourt supplies an introduction.
P. R. A.
"Ralph Osborn—Midshipman at Annapolis," Lieut.-Commander Beach's latest story, is written with marked ingenuity; and, of course, with full mastery of materials. Mr. Beach's own course at Annapolis, and the insight and maturity he gained as an officer on duty several times in different departments of the institution, make the story in pre-eminent degree authentic and useful. Mr. Beach knows the life at Annapolis from the midshipman's point of view, and from that of the officer; and as well as producing a most readable story he has furnished the boys of the country with a little cyclopedia of the Naval Academy whose variety of information they can classify according to their own sweet wills. Ralph Osborn, the hero, has a hard time of it; his sky is frequently full of blackest clouds; and while his character is as sound as oak or Harveyized steel his reputation is several times so close to the rocks that it seems quite impossible to save it. An evil genius pursued him almost from the time he came to Annapolis as a candidate until the day he clutched his diploma and got his first real taste of heaven. No doubt midshipmen have graduated who have been followed by some brother of Nemesis as persistently as Ralph was followed by Mr. Thomas G. Short, the vengeance that dogged his footsteps during four long years. We are glad, however, that such examples are rare; and that the youth at Annapolis ordinarily experience only that kind of pursuit, which, while it frequently makes them decidedly apprehensive and uncomfortable, is essential to their renovation and discipline. The chapter entitled "The Osborn Demonstration" ought to be intellectually quickening to all aspirants to the Naval Academy. In an entirely original way Ralph proves that the square of the hypothenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the squares of the two other sides. There have been midshipmen prodigies in mathematics, and Ralph Osborn was one of them. This feat of Ralph's might be made an allegory of naval progress, always constructing something new both in theory and fact from the premises of the old. Such a book as "Ralph Osborn" is useful in another way: it resuscitates words and phrases belonging to the old navy with which all would soon be over but for the timely appearance of such stories. Seamanship, one of the oldest of the arts, is soonest forgotten in nomenclature as well as practice. The story of Ralph Osborn is thrilling as well as technically correct and interesting. We wish it a Merry Christmas!
W. A. Wilde & Co., Boston, Mass. Price, —.
H. H. C.