LucnErtus would say that it is pleasant to look from the safe shore of reviewing on the great sea of literature agitated by the Christmas winds, and see the travail of unhappy purchasers, Not because it is a pleasure that any one should be troubled, but that you yourself should be free from such evils. It is also sweet to look on the competition of rival sellers. But nothing is sweeter than to hold the serene temples of taste, well fortified and built up by the teaching of wise, men, whence you can look down on others, and see them stray without fixed canons, without. ideas of intellectual delight, without the Geist that makes the choice at once a trial and a triumph. Yet even the philosophical spectator of Lucretius would be perturbed, if he was an under- writer of the ship at sea, or if the multitude below, looked up to him for his opinion. What is the use a having gained the serene temples, if you are perpetually to show cause why you should remain there ? We often hear men reproached for kicking down the ladder by which they mounted, but how can we expect them to do otherwise, when, they have only the choice between kicking it down and always, holding it for others? It is one thing to have a taste, and another to use it for the world at large. It is well enongh to be able to look calmly and critically on the sumptuous bindings and elaborate borders with which the publishers usher in Christmas, but it be- comes a very different matter when you have to compare bind- ings and borders. Say that you induce some wretched pster- families to give his children a book which they pronounce slow. Say that you earn the livelong execrations of a newly married couple by suggesting a gift-book which is handsomely bound, but the contents of which are irritating twaddle. And if, on the other hand, you warn buyers against books, you inflict a cruel injury on
• L Wayside Posies : Original Poems of the Country Life. Edited by Robert Buchanan. Picores by G. J. newel], J. W. IS orth, and Frederiek Walter. London: Boutiedge. 1867.
2. Two Centuries of Song : with critical and biographical Notes by Walter Thorn- bury. Illustrated by original pictures of eminent artists. London: Low aud Son. 1847.
2. 2'he Spirit of Praise. Being a Collection of Hymns, OM and New. London : Fredenck Warne and Co. 1857.
4. Haas Andersen's Fairy Tales. A. New Translation by Mrs. Paull, specially adapted tor Young People. London: Frederick Warne and Co. 1567.
5. Bright Thoughts for the Little Ones. With Prose and Verm by Grandruamma.
London : Pester, mid Galpin.
8. The Children's Prise. Edited by J. Erskine Clarke, M.& London: Macintosh. 1866.
7. Old Merry's Annual. London: Jackson, Watford, and Hodder. 186t.
the sensitive feelings of publishers. Every critic is expected to be merciful at the Christmas season, as if he had overeaten himself already with Christmas pudding, and his judgment had abdicated to help his digestion. We commence this article feeling sure that we shall not steer clear of all the rocks we have indicated. But once launched on our course, it will be too late for these reflections.
The first book on our list can hardly be recommended without criticism, and some of our criticism must be severe. We do not mean to be harsh on Mr. Buchanan for publishing a series of poems and leaving out the names of the authors, but we think he might have made a better selection. Some of the poems are pretty, we cannot say that any are very striking, and we can say that some are rubbish. But the illustrations vary more than the poems. Mr. North's landscapes are often good. Mr. Walker does not contribute many pieces, but those he does contribute are more pleasing than the pictures with which we generally iden- tify him, and one or two have considerable merits. Mr. Pinwell's, however, are, with slight exceptions, almost hideous. One of the few exceptions we make is the first drawing, "As they lead the little calf to die," where the attitude of the calf is good, and parts of the landscape are pleasing. But nothing can be uglier than the pictures at pp. 22, 28, and 42. The first is supposed to illus- trate the line,
"The swallows build their nests up in thy square grey tower,"
and represents a scene more like a barn than anything else, with an ugly young woman holding an ugly child, while an ugly boy in the doorway pulls a bell-rope. Almost the only work of Mr. Pinwell's that is at all suggestive is the picture on p. 72 :—
"Wintry winds are calling Wheresoe'er I go,
Dismally is falling The melancholy snow."
The ground is certainly covered with snow, but not a flake is falling, and yet the heroine of the piece walks along with her inevitable umbrella over her head. We call Mr. Pinwell's picture suggestive, as it confirms a theory some have advanced, that if you see a lady in the street with an umbrella up it is sure not to be raining. The grounds for this theory were never known to us. Mr. Pinwell's picture seems to supply them. Mr. Walker is most successful with children, but once in this volume he gives us a pretty face for a woman. Of Mr. North we must speak more in detail. As the greater number of illustrations are his, and as he confines himself to the same class of subjects, we notice that, with all his great merits, there are certain mannerisms about him and certain faults into which he is apt to fall. One of his faults is the strangely blurred appearance of many backgrounds. Nor is this fault always confined to the backgrounds ; see p. 18, for the lines representing the sea, and p. 24, where a careful figure is made the more distinct by the haziness of what surrounds it. Then, too, Mr. North gives us masses of white, which might be the effect of snow or of moon-light, but are untrue to spring and the BIM. A young critic, aged between five and six, to whom one of these pictures was submitted, accused the artist of departing from nature in his combination of flowers with snow, Perhaps Mr. North's best specimens are the first two illustrations to "Afloat on the Stream." The lumbering barge contrasts well with the bank and
the children grouped upon it. But there are others by Mr. North that are scarcely inferior.
Our second volume is even more exquisite in its " get-up " than our first, but the pictures it contains are fewer, and there is less to be said about them either in praise or blame. Mr. Thorn- bury's original idea was to collect the vers de socilti of the last two hundred years. And the illustrations would have been more appropriate for such a collection than they are for the present volume. They are all of the nature .4 cabinet pictures ; some of them suggest the Dutch painters too much ; others remind us too mach of Florent Willems and Meissonnier. Yet the enlarge- ment of the editor's design has scarcely simplified the volume, while it has deprived many poems of illustrations. It would have been better to leave out some great names altogether, than to con- nect them with paltry poems, and, we regret to say, unworthy comments. Dryden is equally ill judged and ill represented. 01 Pope we are told that he was "too fond of money to waste much time on occasional verse," and similarly of Scott, that he was "too fond of making money to write many verses suitable to our pur- pose." Pope and Scott might fairly retort that they found some- thing higher in life than writing verses for Mr. Thornbury's purpose. If, however, contempt for practical work and for present profit is the passport to Mr. Thornbury's Temple of Fame, how comes it that Moore is admitted without any such disparagement? Moore is per- haps the purest type of occasional verse, of the sparlritng trifler, the pet of drawing-rooms ; yet Moore, strictly speaking, wrote for money more than either Pope or Scott. But however much we may differ from Mr. Thornbury, the present is hardly the time for such discussion. We are grateful for truffles cooked in champagne, without asking whether the champagne is Clicquot. Mr. Thorn- bury has dished the truffles most exquisitely, we allow. It is a treat to find so many old favourites of such various ages and asso- ciations served up on so fair a platter. Of the illustrations we would commend Mr. Marks's frontispiece, "Paying Labourers (temp., Elizabeth)." There is an originality in this drawing, with the stamp of Mr. Marks himself, that removes it from the category of even such clever and creditable work as the "Home of Milton," by Mr. E. K. Johnson, and the "Chamber Music (temp., Charles IL)" of Mr. T. Morten. Mr. Burton's illustration to Tennyson's " Brook " is good so far as "Philip's Farm," which gives its name to the picture, is concerned, but that brook is not Tennyson's. Mr. Burton has not caught the ceaseless -vivacity which chatters through the poem ; he has not attempted to catch the spirit of the life of the brook that breathes from every line. Con- trast with this Mr. Wolf's drawing of "Baffled," where the artist has had the patience to follow Browning, and to steep his pencil in the poet's imagery. So many painters seem to illustrate books without reading them, and to put in details exactly contrary to those you expect to meet, that we are glad to find such evidence of painstaking. Mr. Wolf has also illustrated a song from Lalla Rookh, "Indian Landscape, Wild Peacocks." Here the poet gave him nothing to work upon, as a bower of roses by a given stream, with the nightingale singing round it all the day long, is in no way peculiar to any climate. To turn the roses into rich tropical vegetation and the nightingales into wild peacocks is perfectly allowable, and is the only way to illustrate. It is not every artist who knows when he may lead and when he must follow.
The title of our next book is no doubt suggested by Sir Roundel! Palmer's Golden Treasury work, and the idea may be in part due to the same original. Of coarse there can be no comparison between the two books. It is enough to say of the one before us that it is fit for the drawing-room table of a bishop. We are glad to recognize Mr. North in some of its illustrations, and to see some- thing better by Mr. Pinwell than the engravings in Mr. Buch- anan's volume. The illuminated pages by Mr. J. Burlison are tasteful and sober in drawing, but the heads are rather weak. Mr. T. Dalziel repeats himself too much in an almost uninterrupted Berke of dark landscapes. One of the most striking contributions to the volume is from a hand that will no more touch the pencil, Paul Gray.
What is to be said of Hans Andersen's Tales, save that here is a cheap and handy edition expressly meant for young people ? The last sentence is superfluous, as all editions .of Hans Andersen come under that description, save that grown people refuse to give up their share of the pleasure. However, we had intended- to examine the present volume at some length, had not an accident happened to our copy. The small critic mentioned already in this article carried off the book as soon as he set eyes on it, and refuses either to review it himself or to let us review it. For much the same reason, the three last books on our list do not call for more than a few lines. Their titles will show that they are for children, and we have always found that the safest way to deal with children's books is not to criticize, but to give. Children never scruple to look a gift-horse in the mouth when the first excitement of getting on his back is over. They soon find out little absurdities which would escape the severest critic, and they are so rigorous as- sometimes to act the part of a Papal censor, and erase the guilty page. Bright Thoughts for Little Ones will hardly be exposed to
treatment. The pictures are pretty and nicely drawn, though fitter for youthful than grown comprehensions, and the accom- panying prose and verse are almost too simple. Yet skilful mothers will be able to vary the stories without much effort, and all the stories are written with a burning zeal for maternal authority. The Children's Prize is written too wantonly for edification, and must, we think, be a little demoralized not to cloy on the child's palate from over-goodness. Old Merry's Annual is for rather older boys, as it describes European travel and enters into the mysteries of football. If any boy wishes to know the awful consequences of going to Paris without knowing a word of French except we and nong, he will find a story that will make him love his French master, and attend more diligently to lessons which have hitherto been as tiresome as Latin, and have not had the advantage of teaching what may be as profitably forgotten.