THE "Voyages Extraordinaires" of M. Jules Verne deserve to be madewidely known in English-speaking countries by means of carefullyprepared translations. Witty and ingenious adaptations of theresearches and discoveries of modern science to the popular taste,which demands that these should be presented to ordinary readers inthe lighter form of cleverly mingled truth and fiction, these bookswill assuredly be read with profit and delight, especially by Englishyouth. Certainly no writer before M. Jules Verne has been so happy inweaving together in judicious combination severe scientific truthwith a charming exercise of playful imagination.
Iceland, the starting point of the marvellous underground journeyimagined in this volume, is invested at the present time with. apainful interest in consequence of the disastrous eruptions lastEaster Day, which covered with lava and ashes the poor and scantyvegetation upon which four thousand persons were partly dependent forthe means of subsistence. For a long time to come the natives of thatinteresting island, who cleave to their desert home with all that_amor patriae_ which is so much more easily understood thanexplained, will look, and look not in vain, for the help of those onwhom fall the smiles of a kindlier sun in regions not torn byearthquakes nor blasted and ravaged by volcanic fires. Will thereaders of this little book, who, are gifted with the means ofindulging in the luxury of extended beneficence, remember thedistress of their brethren in the far north, whom distance has notbarred from the claim of being counted our "neighbours"? And whatevertheir humane feelings may prompt them to bestow will be gladly addedto the Mansion-House Iceland Relief Fund.
In his desire to ascertain how far the picture of Iceland, drawn inthe work of Jules Verne is a correct one, the translator hopes in thecourse of a mail or two to receive a communication from a leading manof science in the island, which may furnish matter for additionalinformation in a future edition.
The scientific portion of the French original is not without a fewerrors, which the translator, with the kind assistance of Mr. Cameronof H. M. Geological Survey, has ventured to point out and correct. Itis scarcely to be expected in a work in which the element ofamusement is intended to enter more largely than that of scientificinstruction, that any great degree of accuracy should be arrived at.Yet the translator hopes that what trifling deviations from the textor corrections in foot notes he is responsible for, will have done alittle towards the increased usefulness of the work.