6 OCTOBER 1888, Page 23

A More Excellent Way, by Constance Howell (Sonnenschein), is so

much of a novel with a purpose that it can hardly be considered a novel at all. It is really an exposition of present-day Free- thought and Socialism, although it is nominally a chapter in the history of Otho Hathaway, a young man of " good family," and with a thousand a year, who drifts from the one, in which he has been indoctrinated by his mother, into the other. Mrs. (or Miss) Howell writes well and means well; she is full of her subject ; and one of her characters, the clever, worldly uncle of her hero, is drawn in a way which suggests the possession of some of the true novelist's skill. But she falls into the common error of caricaturing and being too bitter towards some of those who differ from her. One wonders where the lady is to be found, except in the pages of this book, who surmises that Freethought may be identical with Home-rule. Surely, too, Otho Hathaway should have thought out his Socialism before getting engaged to Evangeline Champneys ; it was too bad to tell her at the eleventh hour that it meant living on £300, and giving the rest of his income for "the cause." And do present-day Socialists really dream in this fashion,—" I shall educate my children to be good Socialists ; and before they are grown up, the revolution will have come, and all things will be changed " ? This way political madness lies.