5 DECEMBER 1885, Page 24

Sketches, Personal and Pensive. By William Hodgson. (David Douglas, Edinburgh.)—The

author of these essays is obviously a Scotch Conservative publicist ; but as his Conservatism is composed chiefly of kind-heartedness, Wordsworthian sympathy with Nature and the natural man, and Carlylian distrust of democracy, it bears almost no resemblance to official Toryism. Mr. Hodgson, indeed, simply reproduces some of the most pleasing of his personal experiences in life. How varied these are may be gathered from the titles some of them bear, such as "A Night with Carlyle," "Down a Coal-pit," "Received by Dean Stanley," "Among the St. Andrews Golfers," and "The Newburgh Pear Orchards." There is not a little of Carlylian humour in Mr. Hodgson's introduction to his master in Kirkcaldy :—" Immediately on the fact of his presence being realised, Mr. Swan made the introduction. 'Here's a friend of years, Mr. Carlyle, come to see you.' Whereupon he turned abruptly round, darted a glance at me from eyes which were tender to the light, and ejaculated something which I did not hear, but which I fully under- stood to mean,—' Just so ; a menagerie man ; come to have his show like the rest of the blockheads ; a mean creature, here for his six- pence-worth of wild-beast inspection.'" But better than Mr. Hodg- son's open worship of Carlyle is the Carlylian truthfulness of his descriptions, whether of men or of things. He writes a lively style, and we like him all the better for the digressions into which he is apt to fly on slight provocation. His papers have thus the appear- ance of talk straight from the heart, an appearance which all essays dealing with the eternal verities of man and Nature ought to have. Unhappily, there are but few writers of essays on life and scenery in Scotland left ; and on that account, as well as because Mr. Hodgson has evidently something to say, we hope to hear more of him. When next he publishes, however, it is to be hoped he will think a little more of the matters,—especially important in days of running and reading,—of paper and type. In both of these respects, this volume has a look of parsimony.