2 JANUARY 1932, Page 32

Current Literature •

MRS. PEF.L'S book, The Stream .of Time (The Bailey Head, 18s.), is very cleverly conceived. Her aim is to depict social life in England between 1805 and 1861. A wealth of - contemporary illustrations enlivens her pages. Portraits,

• pictures of old London, both- beautiful and hideous, country - scenes and social scenes, coaching and sport, delight the reader on almost every page. The passing years are shown, Us through the eyes of an imaginary family belonging to the: rich manufacturing class. No attempt is made at character drawing so far as these shadowy sightseers are concerned, but they meet everyone worth meeting and give lively descriptions of pleasures and persons made real by well selected gossip and criticism from memoirs and letters of the time. Mrs. Peel takes an unflattering view of the first half of the nineteenth century and emphasizes unduly its squalor and humbug. She seems sometimes to forget that Cruikshank was a caricaturist. All the same, it is a very pleasant and amusing bit of superficial history, likely to make us contented with our own much better if still " bad times."

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