23 APRIL 1937, Page 30

1851 AND THE CRYSTAL PALACE By Christopher Hobhouse

This is a well-printed, well-designed, and amusing book. If Mr. Hobhouse is sometimes a little cavalier in his treat--; ment of the historical evidence (particu- larly, perhaps, in his estimate of the Prince Consort, to whom he hardly allots due praise), his presentation has all the Cavalier's qualities of witty elegance and charm. The extraordinary anomalies connected with the Exhibition (only in England could Colonel " Blimp " Sibthorpe have found an audience, or an important alteration in the design of a vast building have been necessitated to accommodate a tree), the " ghastly good taste " of the exhibits, the popular interest in the erection of the Palace which made it more of a nine-days- wonder than the ' Queen Mary,' its later history and the final holocaust are all described in a light, humorous yet con- vincing style. The sterling character of Paxton is justly assessed, and his strong- originality seems, in this book, to epitomise all that made for progress in the Victorian era. This book (Murray, 7s. 6d.) is short, but in its compass Mr. Hobhouse has included much inter- esting matter ; the fantastic history of the Crystal Palace—and it was fantastic— will delight - anyone intrigued by the social history of the period or the vagaries of English taste.