Christian Virtues Without Christianity
The Trumpet is Mine. By Cecil Lewis. (Peter Davis, 8s. 6d.) Reviewed by CHARLES G. MORTIMER This book concerns Tahiti and its title is a translation of that part of the island where the author lived for a few months. It is a remarkable narrative full of candour, beauty and human interest. It was largely provoked by the agelong tragedy of Tahiti, an earthly Paradise till it was sullied by the discoverer and contact with European standards. This does not, of course, profess to be the entire story, but it is the most poignant memory that the author bears away with him and makes the reader share.
The book scarcely calls for criticism, though indeed much of its thought is provocative; we feel somehow that there is no answer to the problems raised. Nothing in this world is static; though the condition of Tahiti after the invasion of the Arii was stable and unchanged for a thousand years, yet inevitably the day came when the dream was over; when the imprint of other minds and other civilisations scarred the virgin tracery of a primitive culture. It will be a revelation to many, if the facts our author gives are true, and there is no cause whatever to challenge them, how many Christian virtues were exercised unconsciously by this original people and how many social problems were solved in a land cut off from the world; how right was their instinct; how refined their conduct, and noble their outlook : limited, no doubt; pagan, inevitably; but with a standard of life radically different from what we have evolved in our boasted European civilisation—if indeed we feel inclined to boast about it in this ill-begotten twentieth century.
To read this book is to fall beneath its spell; it is a worthy successor of Streit tarious Rising.