4 MAY 1907, Page 27


Records of an Old Vicarage. By Robert Yates Whytehead. (John Long. Gs.)—Mr. Whytehead seems to be fortunate in the possession of a quantity of family and local records. He gives various extracts from these, mostly referring to ecclesiastical matters, and he adds comments and criticisms of his own on sundry persons with whom he has been brought into contact, —on curates, for instance, and churchwardens. What beneficed parson could possibly be silent on such topics ? There are stories of church affairs as they were a century and a half ago, of the days when a single parson served four churches, when church patronage was distributed in ways which seem not a little strange to us, when, in short, there were so many abuses, so much neglect, so much incapacity and carelessness, that we wonder how the insti- tution survived. Then there are stories of things outside the ecclesiastical circle. There is a chapter about "Auctions," for instance, where we find, among other notable things, the principle enunciated by a famous bookseller, who valued books according to the rarity of their appearance in the sale-room. If a volume was seen there once only in a century, ho would secure it at any cost. There are many stories in the book, but none of any very special merit, and some are very distinctly "chestnuts." We notice, not for the first time, the localising of some well-known stories. The anecdote of the pulpit occupied by a sitting turkey is here. Of how many places has this been told! It has almost reached the dignity of a folk-tale.