1 APRIL 1865, Page 21

A Century of Anecdote. By John Timbs. Two vols. (Bentley.)—A

thoroughly good collection of stories, chiefly from memoirs, compiled chiefly with a view to the illustration of manners and changes in man- ners, illustrations of personal character, and bon mots. The century selected, 1760 to 1860, is a convenient one, for it is the one about which most memoirs exist, and memoirs full of point and all that constitutes the pleasantness of anecdote. Indeed it is too full, for the real difficulty of the century considered as a subject for the historian is to disentangle its history from the stream of anecdote. As far as we have been able to test, Mr. Timbs tells his stories as his authorities tell them, without "improving" them in the after-dinner manner for the sake of point. No man not given to such stories can tell the self-denial, the real fidelity to one's work involved in that particular form of virtue. It is so easy when the idea has been suggested to embody it in briefer words, and so dreadfully fatal to one's conception of the original speaker.