8 AUGUST 1885, Page 25

Mrs. Keith's Crime. 2 vols. (Bentley and Sons.)—There is some-

thing truly dramatic about the conception and the execution of this story. Mrs. Keith is left a widow, with two children—a boy and a girl. She loves both dearly ; but her heart is wrapped up in the girl, who shows signs of mortal disease, and who is ordered to a warmer climate for the winter. The boy dies of scarlet-fever. Then the mother goes abroad with the invalid. The life of a little Spanish watering- place is graphically described; little comedies of various kinds go on ; there are lovers' meeting % and quarrels, and reconciliations ; buying and selling; little intrigues for things considered desirable, and all the other commonplaces that make up ordinary life ; and meanwhile the great tragedy of Mrs. Keith and her dying child is working itself out. For not only is the child dying—that she knows for a certainty, having, indeed, forced the truth from a doctor's unwilling lips—but she is dying herself. And her crime ! What is that ? That we shall leave the reader to find out, if he will, for himself. Our impres- sion is that, considered by itself, the act is so improbable as to be inadmissible. Mad women may do such things; but no one that had the sanity to tell her own story so rationally as Mrs. Keith is repre- sented as telling it could have been mad. We feel this strongly ; and at the same time we cannot help saying that, apart from all con- sideration of probability, the story is repulsive. The force of the tragic contrast between the gloom of the inner life which Mrs. Keith leads, first with her plan, then with her purpose, and the brightness and cheerfulness of the scenes that surround her, is undoubted. Bat the power thus shown is exercised in a morbid and hysterical way.