7 MAY 1927, Page 29

CONVERSATION. By Olive Heseltine. (Methuen. ,• 64 .) --•" What is the

use of a book ? " asked Alice, " without ictures and without conversations ? " Here we have one should be of the greatest use to all lovers of literary 1p as well as to talkers, for it is packed full of anecdotes 4 suggestions for suitable topics - it also contains useful as for listeners.. " If the etymological meaning of Game a communion of Men," says the author, " then the oldest games is conversation." She proceeds to set down some of rules of the game, just a little heavily. In fact the first Pages are too definitely instructive, and one is inclined to r that a treatise on etiquette is coming. However, in the nd chapter we find an account of the difficulties of conver- non in the Middle Ages, when women discussed the subtleties needlework, and guests of honour were entertained by the jis of the court jester. The chapter devoted to the conver- ` 1°.ii Of the Renaissance is packed with matter. During • t.Period Erasmus wrote his famous Colloquies, adventurers Med rowdily at the Mermaid' Tavern, and Castiglione to It Cortigiano, which is, according to Dr. Johnson, the book on manners ever written. Evelyn, Pepys, Swift, isc'n, Pope, Chesterfield and Walpole are all mentioned wing• chapters and snatches of their conversation recorded. Later we find Lamb, Coleridge and Tennyson. The latter was not a tactful conversationalist. " Your stays are too tight ! " he remarked to-ayery :shy " Oh no, I assure you, indeed they are not !" .gasped the young lady. " Yes, they are," replied the poet, " Ivan hear 'em creaking." But some time afterwards he cried Out -cheerfully, " It wasn't your stays, it was my braces ! "'