21 JULY 1866, Page 21

Gossip about Portraits. By Walter F. Tiffin. (H. G. Bohn.)—If

we mistake not, the author's patronymic was known in the print trade in the days when we went portrait hunting a long time ago. The Earl of Derby's scheme for amassing national portraits for public inspection, which has been crowned with so brilliant a success, has given occasion to this fragmentary book. It might have been a pleasant gossiping résumé of the Exhibition itself, had the author waited till he had been to South Kensington, or had had a catalogue sent down to Salisbury. But this he could not do, and the result is that the errata and addenda have had to be incorporated in the oddest way with the index, includ- ing the discovery of the curious old picture of Sir H. Wyatt in prison, with his cat bringing the diurnal pigeon through the bars, the knight looking as if the pigeon of the previous day had seriously disagreed with him. Most of the stories are familiar to dabblers in literature of that sort, and the book being composed in what Theodore Hook called "the littery style," is rendered useless for want of completeness and arrangement. The object of its production is stated to be the promo- tion of a taste for collecting engraved portraits. But with money at 10 per cent. a recital of the vast sums obtained for prints intrinsically void of interest does not revive that taste in us. Sir Giles Earle 'a aphorism, quoted, like many other stories in this book, apropos of nothing, is more in harmony with our sentiments,—" Jove ! what fine things oysters would be if one could make one's servants live on the shells !"