11 DECEMBER 1880, Page 23

We have to notice the stately library edition, in two

volumes, of Romota, by George Eliot. (Smith, Elder, and Co.) Outside, we have a dignified simplicity. The binding is without ornament, design, or even colour, plain calico, with jest a white label on the back. Within, dead-white paper of the thickest, with broad margin, and large type, give all the sumptuousness of an edition de luxe. Sir F. Leighton adorns each volume with twelve illustrations. That the draughtsman's art equals the writer's in such a work as Romola, that any pencil could make the past live in so marvellously real a fashion as George Eliot's pen has done, is not to be expected. Sir F. Leighton shows the skill and taste which we have learnt to expect from him ; but he seems to us to be happiest when his subject is more simply human, less distinctively Florentine of the fifteenth century,—in such drawings, for instance, as "The Visible Madonna" (a particularly graceful effort) and " Tessa at Home," than in "The Peasants' Fair" or "A Florentine Joke." Generally, nothing could be better in its way than these volumes,—though they are not such as to snit the taste of those who hold, as the present writer holds, to Dr. Johnson's opinion, that readable books are such as one can hold in the hand, but rather postulate a table, and we may almost say a big table ; in any case, they are fine specimens of books, and for dignity worthy of the subject.