15 MAY 1886, Page 22

The Poets' Beasts. By Phil Robinson. (Chatto and Wiudus.) —The

Poets' Beasts is an exhaustive inquiry by Mr. Phil Robinson into the estimation in which animals are held by the poets. Mr. Robinson's extreme indignation at the over-estimate which some animals, and the under-estimate which others, receive at the hands of the poets, though apparently j stifled by fact, is amusing. The poets certainly seem to have accepted, for the most part, one stereo- typed idea of the character and disposition of most animals, which does some as much too much, as others too little, justice. Mr. Robinson summarises his criticism on them amusingly thus :—" On the whole, it seems to me, a poet's sentiments towards animals generally are very much like those of an average girl. Both prefer little animals, with smooth skins, and for choice, white "—from which, though rather hard upon the average girl, by the way—it appears that, in Mr. Robinson's opinion, the poets have brought very little of their sometimes wonderful insight to bear upon their four-footed neighbours, a verdict in which, judging by his extracts, which are extensive, we must coincide as a whole. But why, when upon the subject of dogs, did he omit to mention Mr. Matthew Arnold's exquisite epitaph upon his little Dachshund Geist,' which does the sublimest justice to his " little friend " ? If Mr. Robinson had introduced more veritable natural history into his work, and had confronted the poets with fact, it would not only have given much valuable instruction in an agreeable form, but would have given just that variety which the book much needs.