11 DECEMBER 1880, Page 21



The Ere of Saint Agnes. By John Keats. Illustrated by nineteen etchings by C. 0. Murray. (Sampson Low and Co.)—The splendour of Keats's poetry, with its unsurpassed beauty of word-painting, is set off to advantage by the sumptuous paper and print and handsome form of this volume. It could not, of course, be expected that the artist's illustrations should quite match the beauty of the poet's con- ceptions. Now and then Mr. Murray seems to fall below what might have been looked for from him. The execution of his etchings in general, and the designs in part, are fairly satisfactory, but he fails decidedly in his picturing of Madeline. Nothing could well be more inadequate to the theme than the smooth-faced and common-place young person whose portrait illustrates stanza vii.—The Wooing of the Water Witch : a Northern Oddity. By J. Moyr Smith. (Chatto and Windas.)—There is a good deal of quaintness and prettiness about Mr. Moyr Smith's illustrations, his comic efforts, on the whole, not being so good as his sentimental. Of the story there is little to be said, except that we did not find in it the amusement which it is intended, we suppose, to furnish. It is meant apparently for a parody of a saga ; if so, the writer has not very clear notions of what a parody should be. The reader should not have the joke forced upon him in the way that it is here—The Mountain Sprite's Kingdom, and other Stories. By the Right Hon. E. H. Knatchball-Hugessen, Lord Brabonrne. (Routledge.)—We cannot say much for this volume, which, to speak quite candidly, strikes us as somewhat tiresome. Lord Brabourne's prose is verbose. His human creatures, at least, do not talk like any that we have been accustomed to meet with ; of the sprites and ghosts we have not the same opportunities of judging, bat they certainly fail to interest us. And his verse is distinctly less pleasing than his prose. There never was much grace and beauty about his imaginings ; but the horrible ha had a certain power of presenting. Whether the power has failed, or we have grown hardened, certain it is that the supernatural terrors of "Black Rolf of Rooketene," with which the writer has evidently taken the most pains, has failed to make any impression. M. Griset's illustrations, if not as good as we have seen from his pencil, are grote squely vigorous.—Peacock Alley; or, a Boy and Girl against the World, by Rev. Frederick Langbridge, B.A. (Hatchards), can hardly be called a book for children, though it is about children ; and of such children as clever, good little "Heather," and her true-hearted, if slower, brother "Joe," any parent might be proud; although the boy did fall into grievous misdoing:once, and the little, bright girl acted in a "theayter." Even the humour of the book, of which there is a good deal, will be more appreciable by grown people than children- The winding-up is rather melodramatic ; and in his mention of the effect of three years' imprisonment, we fear the benevolent author has been guided by his wishes rather than by experience.—Family Honour, by Mrs. C. L. Balfour (Cassell, Petter, and Galpin), is a long and complicated, but very readable story of the mistaken course taken by an elderly maiden lady in order to preserve the honour of her ancient, untitled family. The familiar incidents of a private marriage, the substitution of children for one another, and the extortion of money by a villain who appears and disappears in the background, • do not prevent the story from maintaining a very considerable interest of its own. An old writing-master is one of its most love- able characters, though a very queer German sage and his physician brother run him very close; and as for the young people, they are as amiable and high-minded as one could wish to see them, and, except in the case of Marian, the writing-master's worthy daughter, very unlike their worldly-minded parents. The name of the writer, who is, we conclude, the well-known lady-lecturer, is sufficient guarantee for the high morality and good English of the tale.—The Vicar of Wakefield appears illustrated in "permanent photography, from pictures by eminent British artiste." (Dickens.)—One has the impression that one has seen at least a hundred pictures illustrating Goldsmith's tale on the walls of the Academy. Yet we learn from the preface to this edition that it has not been easy to obtain suitable illustrations. Mr. Stanesby, the editor, has had to have recourse to pictures by Stothard, which have a very stiff and unattractive appearance. The three old favourites by Mnlready, which every one knows, are here, as is Mr. Ward's "Dr. Johnson Reading the Manuscript of the Vicar of Wakefield." The photo- graphs are good of their kind, and the volume altogether attractive. —Mr. T. C. Hepworth, with The Boys' Playbook of Science, by -John Henry Pepper (Rontledge), makes many additions in sub- jects which the discoveries of the last few years have created or enlarged. Among the new articles are those on the telephone and the microphone, the phonograph, and the electric light. Other articles have been rewritten, and the work brought up to a level with the present day. It does not profess to go beyond the limits of a " play•book," but it is good of its kind.—The Popular History of Science, by Robert Routledge (Rontledge), makes it its chief aim to instruct. Its 667 pages are, as may be imagined, not too much for its subject; and the writer has to pass lightly over many parts of his almost endless task ; but he contrives to deal faithfully with it as a whole, and to preserve—always the great +difficulty in such an effort—the true perspective of the sketch. Young readers will not only learn something of the vastness of the subject, but will acquire the rudiments of a more accurate knowledge. There is a copious . supply of illustrations, not all equally appropriate. Such plates as the "Present Aspect of Constantinople," the "Cathedral of Amiens," and "The Spring," look out of place in a book of science.—In another branch of science, we have one of the volumes (without date or number) of Cassell's Natural History, edited by P. Martin Duncan, M.B. In this volume, Mr. R. Bowdler Sharpe, F.L.S., deals with the subject of Ares, and the editor with Reptilia and Amphibia. These names guarantee the scientific value of the work, and we need only say that the volume is handsome, and copiously illustrated, comprising between two and three hundred engravings, many of them of fall- page size; and between six and seven hundred pages of print, nearly two-thirds of which are devoted to the birds.—For young children we have from Messrs. Rontledge Little Buttercup's Picture-Book, a mélange of familiar fairy-stories, sketches of natural history, jokes of all kinds, some of them really good. The little people will find much amusement in this volume. If they have a taste for dancing, they should ask for Routledge's Singing Quadrille and Children's Singing Lancers, where they have old nursery rhymes set to dance music, and comic pictures, considerably above the average of merit, both in design and colour, to look at, when they are tired. For still younger folk, there is Little Tiny's Book of Objects, with its "more than seven hundred illus. trations."—Of reprints and new editions, we have the Life of Nelson, by Robert Southey (Nimmo) ; John Holdstoorth, Chief Mate, by W. Clark Russell (Sampson Low and Co.), a fine story, which we are glad to see again ; The Dragonnades, or Asylum Christi, by the Rev. R. E. Mat (Sampson Low and Co.); and the Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties, by George Lillie Craik, M.A. (Nimmo.) —Special notice should be taken of the reissue, in a very handsome form, of a well-known work, the merits of which need no acknow- ledgment from the critic,—The Land and the Book ; or, Biblical Illus- trations Drawn from the Manners and Customs, the Scenes and Scenery, of the Holy Land, by W. M. Thompson, D.D. (T. Nelson and Sons.) The volume before us is a very handsome octavo, of nearly six hun- dred pages. Its special feature is its copious furnishing of illus- trations, of which there are more than thirty occupying a full page each, and more than three times as many in the text. They are "entirely new, prepared specially for this work, from photographs taken by the author, and from the best existing materials."—Routledge's Every Boy's Annual, edited by Henry Rontledge, furnishes its readers with the usual plentiful supply of adventures and the like interesting matters. Mountain ascents are, we fancy, somewhat of a novelty, —happily thought of, to our mind.