25th Sept., 1890
Thank you for Byzantium. I couldn't write the book you mention, it's not the kind of work I can do, and I shouldn't like anything I wrote ever to come out in a series in which anyone else had written, except an author whom I particularly loved and admired.
I have too a large book of my own on South Africa in quite another style to bring out.
I think the whole series of Stories of the Nations most useful. But the flower of the series, as far as I have seen it, is Chaldea, by Z. A. Ragozin. Is the writer a man or a woman? It is a real "book," not only a compilation; there is individuality and life in it; I've read it twice, and have felt much interested in the writer. Two very able judges whom I know have also been much struck with it. I should be glad to think it was the work of a woman.
About the African Book. Why do you not write to Mr. Theal, the great authority on South African History? If he would do the work, it would be admirably done. His History of the Boers is good, but his little book, Cape Commanders, is high, first-class work; a book worth reading again and again. Would you like me to send him the letter you sent me, or would you like to write again to him yourself? Cape Town, South Africa, will find him. Everybody knows him. A most interesting volume for your series would be one on the Native Races of South Africa. Mr. Theal might be willing to write that also. He is without doubt the ablest and best authority on South African matters. If he can't, the Hon. A. Wilmot, M.L.C., might be willing to write either. His address will be Grahamstown, South Africa. He has already written one most admirable little book on the Cape and has a finished literary style. If you can't get either of these two, I should advise Mr. John Noble of Cape Town. His little History of South Africa is most reliable and valuable, but he not the literary brilliancy of the other two. I should glad if I could be of any service to you in the matter. I'm sorry I can't undertake it myself.