8 AUGUST 1885, Page 25

History of Japan. By Percy Thorpe. (F. V. White.)—This is

a compilation of very doubtful utility. The older history of Japan is accessible to Europeans in Dr. Dickson's excellent volume, and in the pages of the "Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan ;" the more recent in the "Dieam of Genji " and the " KinFeS Shiriyaka " (Short Account of Modern Times), by our present Minister at Bangkok, and in Mr. F. 0. Adams's History, published some few years back. From these sources a far better account of the evolution of the Japanese Empire might have been compiled than from such works as Mr. Thorpe seems mainly to have relied upon, and, had he used them more freely, many of the errors he has fallen into would have been avoided. We have not space to particularise these—suffice it to say they betray the author's unfamiliarity with the language and literature of Dai Nippon. An appendix gives an interesting account, taken from the columns of the London and China Telegraph, of the new nobility, which is in great measure a revival of the old aristocracy prac- tically abolished in 1868-70. There are five orders—duke, mar- quis, earl, viscount, and baron—distinguished, we may add, by little Chinese syllables that sound meanly enough. Primo- geniture has always existed in Japan, and is maintained in the new peerage. Within narrow limits, ascendants and descendants of the newly-created noble share his honours; but the privileges—which do not appear to have been defined—are enjoyed by the titular, his son, and grandson, only. A peer may not marry without the consent of the Mikado. Collateral descent of a title is not allowed, a matter of no importance in a country where adoption is usual. But adoption, like marriage, requires the Imperial consent. The peer mast maintain all his relations ; which, again, is a provision of the common law of Japan. Of all ranks, the total in 1884: was five hundred. What part this curious House of Lords will play under the constitutional system to come into operation a few years hence, it is not easy to foresee. But if the " kug4 " and " bake " of old have had a real rebirth in the new orders, it will be for the first time in history that such a revival of an aristocracy once dead has taken place.