30 MAY 1925, Page 20

Mr. Logan Pearsall Smith has gathered a volume of studies

in the English language, Words and Idioms (Constable). In it he catalogues a great number of idioms in their kind, and traces their derivation ; and he follows the passage of English words through foreign languages and foreign words through the English language. There is boycott, for example, which becomes boikottirovat in Russian ; there is tramway, which is assimilated as tranvia, blackball, which is translated literally as bola vegra, in Spanish. But perhaps the most interesting part of the book is the account of Continental impressions of the English character in different periods. It is amusing to

realize that in the eighteenth century the most famous attribute of the English was their melancholy. " Englishmen were universally believed to be in the habit of committing suicide, merely from disgustwith life." It became a fashion, indeed, with Anglomaniaes abroad to construct gloomy and seques- tered " English gardens," to which their owner might withdraw to indulge himself in the most exquisite pangs of mournful meditation. * * * *