13 SEPTEMBER 1873, Page 21

Underground; or, Life Below the Surface. By Thomas W. Knox.

(Sampson Low and Co.)—The author prepares ns for a wide application of his title, by telling us in his preface that "it has been his endeavour to make a book in which he could describe the life, not only of the miner, but of all who work underground, whether literally or meta- phorically." There are, indeed, some things described—the ascent of Vesuvius, for instance—which come neither liberally nor metaphorically under the term. The ascent, however, is ingeniously connected with the account of a visit to the buried cities of Campania, and the writer would probably find some way of justifying the rest. Nor would it much trouble him or the reader if ho failed to do so. The great volume to which he gives this comprehensive title - it contains nearly a thousand large - sized octavo pages is sufficiently entertaining not to need any apology of this kind.

As for its contents, it is not easy to convey an idea of them. The first six chapters introduce us to coal-mines, to the caverns of Naples, to the underground operations at Hellgate—Hellgate, as the readers of Washington Irving should be aware, is that part of the entrance to New York harbour which lies between Long Island Sound and the East River—to various other operations in mining, so leading us in chapter vii. to the subject of the "Speculations in Nevada Mines,"

whore we have the story of certain swindling operations in silver mincs, a subject to which the author returns in chapter have wherein ho

unfolds the inner history of the "Groat Diamond Swindle of 1872." Ho, or his informant, seems to think that there really is a diamond deposit of wonderful richness somewhere on the North American continent,—in Mexico, as we gather from what ho says. But we should fill columns, were wo only to give the briefest account of the contents of this volume. "Burglars and Burglaries," "Adventures of Divers," "Coral Caves in the Pacific," "The Green Vaults of Dresden,"" Wine and Beer Cellars," "The Mammoth Cave," "The Parisian Sewers," "The Catacombs of Rome" are among the titles of the chapters. But some of tho most telling descriptions are to be found in those chapters of what may be called metaphorically underground life. " Underground in Francisco," for instance, wherein the author puts himself under the guidance of a certain knowing Colonel. drinks "piece," a very fine Peruvian brandy, then penetrates into the Chinese quarter, where he chews betel (it is commonly taken with cocoa-nut and a paste chiefly made of quicklime), smokes opium, and generally sees life of a very surprising kind, is a very interesting, if not precisely edifying narrative. The book contains some serious information, which is generally given, however, in the style of the "Innocents at Home." Altogether, long as it is, it is quite readable, and looks also as if it were true.