26 MARCH 1898, Page 26

The Captive of Pekin. By Charles Hannan. (Jerrold and Sons.)

—Herbert Vanscombe, sitting in the balcony of a house at Brussels, picks up a swallow that has fluttered to his feet, and finds on it a written paper which he makes out to be a prayer for deliverance from an Englishman imprisoned in Pekin. He takes this to be a manifest call to action; the book tells the story of how he answered it. Of course, it is full of horrors, for does it not tell the tale of Chinese ways ?—your Chinaman, when he knows that he is master, is as mercilessly cruel as anything that bears the shape of man—and it is, perhaps, a little overcrowded with detail. Nevertheless it is an effective story. When it gets fairly under way, so to speak, and the action is not interrupted with description or meditation, the interest becomes very strong.