17 APRIL 1880, Page 17


few months ago that the Temps informed us that Lord Gladstone was staying at an hotel in Paris. It is not yet a year since we read in the Figaro that "Lord Garraoyle " had just been made a peer by "Mr. Cairns, Chancellor of Great Britain," by the title of "Sir Beaconsfield." We laugh at these things, self-satisfied that no Englishman is ever guilty of such blunders in speaking of foreign peers and potentates. We smile at the title of the newest Parisian " sporting " paper, 'Williams' Turf, and we feel that "Shocking " is not a par- ticularly happy English name for a French novel, even when the author conceals his Anglo-French identity under the iLOni de plume of " Chut."

But we can make mistakes, too, in England,—let us smile as we will at the amusing ignorance of the foreigner. Slight errors, that may creep into the body of a work, and call for notice rather than for criticism, become offensive when imported into the title ; and the title of this work is erroneous to the extent of absurdity. Garcia is a Spanish surname, and a sufficiently common one ; and every one who knows anything whatever about Spain or Spanish is aware that the title Don can no more be used before a surname, without the intervention of a Chris- tian name, than the title Sir can be prefixed to "Jones." "Sir Thompson's " impressions of Spain would not pro- mise great accuracy in the work itself, and "Don Garcia's " ideas of England are equally erroneous and equally absurd. And we regret this all the more because, as our duty compelled us to read the book, which otherwise we certainly should not have opened, we found the greater part of it far from absurd and by no means erroneous, a book, in fact, in its way decidedly worth reading. But the author has no reason to complain if mere passers-by estimate the quality of his work by the sign that he chooses to hang up outside. Indeed, the first words of his preface are as follows :—

"I have always been of opinion that the outer covering of a book has as much relation to its acceptance in the world, as the dress of a man has to the figure he makes in the same world. More especially is this the case when both man and book are quite unknown and un- recommended. The externals of both should, I consider, indicate, so far as clothes and binding may do it, the inner man and the inner book."

A wise and witty nobleman once said that all men have a ten- dency to pique themselves upon their weaknesses, and it can only be in conformity with this paradoxical law that Mr. Sandys, after writing these words and after having selected for his title an example of incorrect and ludicrous Spanish, should have embellished the sober binding of his book with an example of still more incorrect, and still more ludicrous heraldry.

The plan of the book is as follows :—The author, travelling

• Don Garda in Engtand. By George Windle Sandys. London: Tinsley. 1879. in Spain, falls in with a great nobleman, a sort of Marquis of Carabas in his own country, who is called " Don Garcia," and who soon afterwards pays his first visit to England, and is lionised over the country and the town by his former guest, the author. This, of course, gives Mr. Sandys the desired opportunity of sketchiugthose" characters" and presenting to us those "scenes ".

from English life which are the avowed object of the book. And very well he does his work. Indeed, Mr. Sandys' scenes, and characters, and reflections are excellent, and there is only one fault that we have to find with the way in which the plan of the work is carried out, and that is that Senor Garcia is somewhat de trop. The work is, of course, a record or exposition of Mr. Sandys' own opinions of men and things ; and these are, as a rule, just and sensible in themselves, and clearly and straightforwardly stated. It is, perhaps, somewhat strange that the author should introduce himself by name among the more or less fictitious characters that he introduces in the course of the book :—

"'Amid I know no one,' said Lord Bewleigh, 'who can do it better than Saudys. Let me advise you to place yourself unreservedly in his hands. He knows something of everybody and something of everything. Ile is a lawyer, a politician, a successful litterateur' (I bowed) ; 'and as he has just published his last book, and is resting on his laurels, he is an idle man. My advice to you, Don Garcia, is to trust yourself to my friend Sandys.'"

The character of Lord Bewleigh is not so happy :—" He is a good classical scholar, and like most Englishmen of rank who mix with the world, a good fluent modern linguist."

Now, few Englishmen of any rank are good fluent modern linguists ; but of the very few who can lay claim to that distinc- tion none would, we think, speak as Lord Bewleigh is repre- sented as speaking of the Spanish gentleman who gives the

name to the book :—" Ay, ay, just so. Not one of your damned speechifying foreigners—I hate the breed ! I tell you what,

Sandys, the fellow deserves to be an Englishman. Bigod he does, sir !"

There is nothing new in the plan of the work ; "Time Persian Letters," "The Turkish Spy," "The Citizen of the World," are old-fashioned literature enough ; yet there is something in the execution of the work that reminds one perpetually of a well- known living writer, Mr. Mallock. The character of a well- known modern statesman is as personal, though not by any means as delicately witty, as anything in The New Republic; and, a young lady's remarks upon her musical studies are in the very newest style of the same school :—

"'To be sure' [said Miss Vivian], I am not much afraid of ex- pressing a decided opinion about the theory and purpose of music, because I happen to have given rather a long study to thorough-bass and the principles of counterpoint.'—' They must be difficult subjects,' said Don Garcia, with an impressed manner.—' They came to me in the course of my reading,' said the young lady, simply ; and they seemed to me to have an important bearing upon the relations of art in its elevating aspects upon the human mind.'— r said Don Garcia.—' Not that I set music higher than its sister-arts—lower even, as being almost entirely deficient in the supra-sensuous and proso- poetic elements.'—' I follow you entirely,' said Don Garcia. (' The deuce you do !' I thought.)—' But still a noble and mighty lever to use in our efforts towards elevation, a strong and helpful light in the- eventual illumination, the Aufkiiirung, which we look to.'"

The same young lady's theory of the importance and the pecu- liar value of instrumental music in mixed society is even wittier, but it is somewhat too long to quote. But the account of the success of the article on the peculiar qualities of certain rare fungi is at once happy, and modern, and humorous, and it is as follows :—

"And the article in the Regenerator ?' I inquired.—' It appeared within a month. Nothing was ever a greater success. The circula- tion of the magazine rose from that moment, and its position in the world of letters was established. It was an article which com- bined learning and lightness as they never had been combined before. There was antiquarianism in it for antiquarians, philosophy for philo- sophers, anecdotes for ordinary readers, and information for curious ones ; and the article had one quality which has very rarely been seen in magazines or reviews—it was readable. And the curious part of the whole thing is that nobody ever found out how little I knew of the matter except one old gentleman. He happened to be the only man in Great Britain who really understood the subject. He exposed me and my ignorance in a thin quarto volume which it took him three years to write ; and I should have been utterly ruined in a literary sense, but for one small circumstance—nobody except myself has ever read that book to this day.'" In a man who objects as strongly as Mr. Sandys does to. epigrams, the following is rather poor :—" Liberals are people who are ashamed of calling themselves Whigs any longer, and Conservative is only a polite way of saying Tory." The chapter on modern art and artists, though not particu- larly profound, is full of just remarks and hard-hitting at what deserves to be hard hit. The description of Mr. Whistler's pictures, on pages 317 and 318 of the book, is but a fair ampli- fication of Mr. Raskin's well-known criticism; and the caustic review of the causes of the small amount of progress made by art and artists in England, a dozen pages earlier, is unfortu- nately only too true.

To those who enjoy a book of social criticism, neither tame nor offensive, full of happy remarks, albeit somewhat clumsily put together,—and who are ready to forgive two or three foolish intro- ductory chapters, in virtue of a score of wise and witty pas- sages, in the course of the work, we can honestly recommend 11r. Sandys' book.