16 JUNE 1877, Page 21

The Tiber and its Tributaries. By Strother A. Smith. (Longmans.)

—The author thinks, and it would seem, not without good reason, that amidst all the labour so abundantly bestowed on the history, antiquities, and geography of Rome, the Tiber has been neglected. Hence this elaborate monograph, in which, as far as industry and the indefatigable collection of materials and a very enthusiastic belief in the excellence of his favourite river are concerned, he has done full justice to his sub- ject. We could wish, indeed, that his materials had been somewhat better arranged. To read his chapter, for instance, on the "plans for preventing inundations of the Tiber," one would think that he was not acquainted with the famous passage in which Tacitus relates how it was proposed to divert some of the water that flows into the Tiber into the Arno, and how the plan was opposed by the authorities of the dis- tricts affected. Of course, he really knows all about the passage, and indeed discusses it fully in an appendix on the same subject, but he certainly fails to put it in its proper place here. His own idea is that inundations cannot be prevented, except as far as raising the banks might do something towards this end. The fall, he says, is too small. It is only where there is a great fall, as in the Aar, for instance, that the device of canalising, which is really the most effective, is of any avail. He disbelieves also, it is interesting to see, in the discovery of any wonderful art-treasure in the bed of the Tiber. Gregory the Great is said to have thrown thousands of statues into the Tiber. We dare say, disagreeing here with Mr. Strother Smith, that he was capable of doing such an act ; but it is not one Pope, it is ten centuries or more of Popes, with whom Vandalism has been the rule, that has reduced to so insignificant a number the vast multitude of statues that once adorned Imperial Rome. There are interesting chapters on the water of the Tiber, which our author pronounces to be excellent, on its birds, its fishes, &c. Altogether, this is a very interesting volume for the genera reader, as well as classical scholar, nor will the naturalist fail to find much information in it.