5 JUNE 1897, Page 25

Mercy Warren. By Alice Brown. (John Murray.)—The author of this

book has gallantly contended with her fate. She had to write a book upon a woman of whom very little is known, and the result is really one which we cannot think interesting. It is not Mrs. Brown's fault. She has read all that she could read for her background about early days in modern America, and has even clutched for support at the Elizabethan and Cavalier literature of England; but the fact remains that Dame Mercy Warren is a character of whom we see little and for whom we care less. She was once the heroine of a coterie ; but is as impossible to revive whatever made her the attraction in early American literature, as it is to perceive the charm of some silly old woman who once bad the beauti du diabie and does not recognise that her admirers are left forty years behind. So in this sketch all that is priggish and pedantic in a semi-literary woman seems to appear, whereas in the old days Mercy Warren must have been a good wife and mother, an interesting hostess, and a moderately faithful friend. She was a remarkably good hater, but her hatred has embodied itself in literary productions which are too dull even to whet curiosity. On this side of the Atlantic that is all which can be said for a most painstaking biography, which, though it mentions great names, tells us nothing about them. We think that Mr. Lowell would have been very sorry to have placed it on the shelf of "literature suited for desolate islands,"—it would have male any such island more desolate still.