12 MAY 1866, Page 21

Penny Readings in Prose and Verse. Three vols. Library Edition.

Selected and edited by J. E. Carpenter. (Warne.)—It is interesting to know that the "penny-reading" owed its origin as a self-sup- porting institution to the voluntary proposition of a working man. The admission to the riadings at first was free, and the expenses defrayed by the enemies of the gin palace ; one evening a man from the body of the hall rose, and proposed that for the future an admission- fee of a penny should be charged. The proposition was carried enthu- siastically, and it is satisfactory to hear that the payment proved sufficient. These readings are very popular in working men's institu. tions, and the three volumes before us seem to contain an excellent selection of varied subject-matter well adapted for the purpose. The editor has also very properly prefixed to each piece a short biography of tlle author.