2 NOVEMBER 1872, Page 23

Off Parade. By Stephen J. Mackenna. 3 vols. (Hurst and

Blackett.) —It is not an attractive picture that Mr. Mackenna, who has himself been a soldier, gives us of military life "off parade." Parade, after all, cannot occupy many hears of the day, and when that is over, there does noteeem to be an idea of anything beyond love-making, sport, gambling, and drinking. We do not mean to say that this is a fair representation of the soldier's life in peace, but it is the picture that one of themselves gives of it. Here are a number of officers of all kinds and characters introduced, and there is not a syllable from beginning to end to inti- mate that any one of them feels the slightest interest in his profession. For the novel as a literary work we cannot say very much. The char- acters are drawn in a very rude and inartistic fashion. We can recog- nize nothing like life in the plotting Dartrey and the fiendishly malicious William Mason. It is quite monstrous, for instance, to repre- sent one brother supplying another with money in order to lure him onto excesses which will ruin him, out of mad jealousy. The other characters, both male and female, are of the ordinary talking, dancing, sad flirting kind, and neither they nor their doings can excite much interest in the reader's mind. The book has a good purpose,—so much we do not hesitate to say for it; as for the moral, we do not feel so sure. The hero is an extravagant and profligate fellow, who is considered to be sufficiently punished by having to sell out and act as corresponding clerk to a merchant for a salary of £100 per annum, and then, having passed through this purgatory, is passed on to the moral novelist's heaven.