29 APRIL 1893, Page 39

The Highway of Letters. By Thomas Archer. (Cassell and Co.)

—Apart from the' title, which is misleading, Mr. Archer's work rests on the same plan, both as to the letterpress and the illustra- tions, as Leigh Hunt's " The Town," a book of pleasant memories to many ramblers in the highways and by-ways of Old London. The "Highway of Letters" is Fleet Street. The wayfarers referred to by Mr. Archer as notable therein from age to age are, for the most part, the owners of old familiar names ; and though the relation of some of those names to Fleet Street is very shadowy, while in other cases they represent distinction other than that of letters, they nearly all serve as convenient pegs on which to hang some of the multitudinous pleasant or tragical stories which give such a charm to the old streets and houses of London. It is over a century since " William Maitland and others" presented to the public their faithfully written history, with its admirable illustrations and its exact extracts from original documents. From that notable production to the light chit-chat of Mr. Hunt and Mr. Archer is a huge stride in the art of bookmaking ; and yet how much always remains to be told I If we extend Mr. Archer's Highway of Letters to Charing Cross on the one hand, and to the Mansion House on the other, there are still by-ways of letters to explore, and bright comedies and dark tragedies to unearth. In fact, Old London is an inexhaustible storehouse of knowledge and interest ; and when it has been tapped yet again and again and again, it will still present apparently untouched veins, fresh and new. The Highway of Letters is well illustrated, and represents considerable painstaking research, and a mastery of facts and dates which deserves high commendation.