14 OCTOBER 1876, Page 23

Famines in India: their Causes and Possible Prevention. By A.

Lukyer Williams. (Henry S. King and Co.)—This is the Cambridge University Le Bas Essay for 1875. When a prize essay deals with a subject of such vast proportions and importance, a subject which baffles the wisdom of statesmen and administrators—and upon which very wide divergences of opinion exist among the most experienced persons—it must have some very singular merit to deserve separate publication. If it put the problem clearly, relate the history of the matter in hand succinctly and generally, if it "states the case" with perspicacity and good-taste, it does all we have a right to expect. Mr. Williams's essay appears to Ossetia these merits, and it has also the advantage of a lucid and occasionally forcible style. The array of authorities in preface and notes is somewhat formidable, and it is no detraction from Mr. Williams's essay to say that the opinions of men like Colonel Chesney, Dr. Hunter, Sir George Campbell, and the late Lord Mayo possess a value independent altogether of the casket that enshrines them. The possibility of preventing famines in the future, or, at all events, of mitigating their disastrous effeots, depends, according to

Mr. Williams, upon the adoption of the following measures t—a con- siderable improvement in the means of communication by water, road, and rail ; greater attention being given to the study of meteorology ; improvements in administrative machinery ; and lastly, emigration. These conclusions appear to us to be unimpeachable.