28 AUGUST 1875, Page 22

Restless Human Hearts. By Richard Jefferies. 3 vols. (Tinsley Brothers.)—This

is one of the novels which we would gladly pass over in silence. Bnt it seems a duty to warn possible readers against what is an offensive and even noxious book, while at the same time it is pos- sible that the writer may not be beyond the reach of remonstrance. We do not suppose him to have written a deliberately immoral story. He even writes occasionally—as, for instance, when he condemns the general tone of French fictionas if he had a moral end in view. We must assure him emphatically that he has made a signal mistake. Indeed it is difficult to see what defence he can make to himself for the tone of some of the scones which he describes. If he chooses to depict an utterly profligate woman in Carlotta, he is not passing beyond the legitimate limits of a writer of fiction. Such represen- tations may be made to subservo a moral purpose, though they should be ruled by a tact and a reserve which are wanting hero. But his de- scription of the sayings and doings of Holoise, the model of purity and innocence, as ho would have us think her, is an outrage on all good- feeling. And as to taste, what are we to say to the devices by which he punishes one heroine, and preserves the other from actual corrup- tion? Carlotta is bitten by a rattlesnake in a railway-carriage, and throws herself from the train. Holoise sets herself on fire in the hotel whither she has fled with her lover, and the lover is shocked into better thoughts "by the smell of burnt flesh." After this, we may look on the proceedings of a third heroine, Georgiana Knoyle, as a harmless eccentricity, when she marries herself "for three years" to the man of her choice. This device, indeed, we take to be the author's panacea for the "restless human hearts " which he has undertaken to describe. It is almost needless, after saying so much, to warn any one to whom the librarians may send this book unordered, as they will 8011141WeS send such books, to keep it safely under lock and key.