16 FEBRUARY 1895, Page 24

A Short History of the English People. Illustrated Edition. By

Mrs. J. R. Green and Miss Kate Norgate. Vol. IV. (Macmillan and Co.)—This concluding volume of Mrs. Green's edition of her husband's great work maintains the standard of excellence reached in the former volumes. The portraits are, of course, very much better in this latter era—from Charles II. to 1874—than in the last volume. But we think the engraver might have spared so excessive an insistence on Mr. Gladstone's wrinkles, which convert an excellent photograph into a caricature. This in- sistence is made the more marked by the reproduction of the bust of Disraeli on the opposite page being as unchannelled as a bride's cheeks. In regard to medals, which figure largely in this volume, it is sad to observe how superior the French are to the English examples. The fussy and ridiculous medal commemorating Wel- lington's entry into Madrid in 1812, compares very badly with the dignified simplicity of that struck in honour of the (ex- pected) conquest of England from Boulogne. But perhaps the worst taste of all is exhibited in the Great Seal of her present Majesty, who, on the reverse, is represented riding a horse trapped and ostrich-feathered like a circus steed, accompanied by a page with a woman's face and curls, dressed in a style com- pounded of the Elizabethan, Edwardian, and omnium gatherum. The cause of failure is the aiming at effect and trying to get in too much, whereas the essence of the medallic art is severe simplicity. A similar decadence is shown in the corporation maces of the seventeenth century as compared with those of earlier times. On the whole, the most interesting illustrations of all and the most artistic, are those of the itinerant traders of London at the end of the eighteenth century.