10 JANUARY 1914, Page 26

The Waverley Edition of the Works of Charles Dickens. 30

vols. (Waverley Book Co. 75s. net.)—This new edition of Dickens has many good features. The volumes are handy in size and clear in type. The illustrations are comparatively few, but admirable in quality, so far as we have examined them ; to our mind, the "character studies" of Mr. Charles Pears and the coloured drawings of Mr. Fred Barnard pre- sent the familiar types of Dickens in a far more credible and human aspect than did many of the original illustra- tions—perhaps because it is impossible for the twentieth century to appreciate the Early Victorianism of Browne or the grotesque ugliness of Cruikshank. Yielding to a common weakness, the publishers have prevailed on an eminent literary man or woman of the day to provide a short "intro- duction " to each novel. For our own part, we could do without these introductions, which are of a very impressionist style and differ as widely as the hands that wrote them. The only desirable "introductions" to Dickens that we know are those which the late Charles Dickens the younger wrote for Messrs. Macmillan's three-and-sixpenny series ; and these owe their value to the biographical and bibliographical details which they include. Still, many readers like to be told what they ought to think about the book they are going to read, and for this great class many of the "introductions" hem given are just the thing they want. Admirable of its kind is the page with which Andrew Lang prefaces Pickwick; excellent too are the contributions of Mr. Chesterton, Mr. E. F. Benson, and "Lucas Malet "—though the last-named critic, is lamentably weak in her spelling of Dickens's names. Perhaps the moat interesting thing of all is Mr. Pett Ridge's statement that- " When you want to reward a Somers Town boy to-day for competence in (say) singing, or boxing, or shooting, and you offer him a choice of books, he will invariably reply, think, if you don't mind, I'll have one of Dickens's ! " So far does a poor halfpennyworth of fact outweigh, to our taste, whole gallons of criticism.