5 MAY 1894, Page 25

The Skeptics of the French Eenaissance. By John Owen. (Swan

Sonnenschein and Co.)—Mr. Owen follows up his work entitled "Evenings with the Skeptics," with this volume dealing fully with a special part of the subject. The plan that he pursues is to introduce certain dramatis persona, well-informed people who differ conveniently in their views, for the purpose of discussing the subject which he is about to treat. After they have talked awhile, one of them reads a paper. The dialogues are not brilliant or entertaining, but they are not without use, for they suggest points of importance in the essay that follows. The " skeptics " treated are Montaigne, Peter Ramus, and Pascal, among well- known thinkers, and the less familiar names of Charron, Sanchez, and La Mothe-le-Vayer. Mr. Owen has studied his subject pro- foundly ; he gives copious references ; he brings to a difficult task an open and candid mind. That his book should require severe study in the reader could not, it may be, have been avoided. Still, we cannot but feel that, considering the average weakness of human nature, and the brevity of available time, it would have been well to lighten it. As it is, however, it is a highly meritorious piece of work.