2 OCTOBER 1942, Page 20

Three Tours Through London in the Years 1748, 1776, 1797 .

By W. S. Lewis. (Oxford University Press. iss. 6d.) Tins is a delightful subject and Mr. Lewis's reconstruction is fully worthy of the editor of the Yale edition of Horace Walpole's corre- spondence. These three studies were lectures with none of their usual faults, and they are fascinatingly annotated, for, as Mr. Lewis rightly observes, a book of this kind is rubbish without footnotes. Here is something for all lovers of the eighteenth century—the build- ings, the theatre, Ranelagh, the Rotunda, above all the current topics of conversation. We are given the impressions of contemporary travellers such as Casanova and the young Duc de la Rochefoucauld, and such nostalgic memories as Walpole's account of an evening at Hampton Court. " I was strolling- in the garden in the evening . . . and Lady Solant asked Mr. Gammon to sing. . . . His deep notes are calculated for the solemnity of Purcell's music, and for what. I love particularly, his mad songs and the songs of sailors. It was moonlight and late and very hot, and the lofty façade of the palace and the trimmed yews and canal made me fancy myself of a party in Grammont's time." An interesting lesson in historical perspective is supplied by the fact that the Declaration of Independence is not printed in the Annual Register, and in The Gentleman's Magazine it follows the account of a lady and gentleman from Siberia who are expert in hair-dressing. An interesting revelation is the sugges- tion that the tourist's refined landlady would speak in the accents of a down-east Yankee. Mr. Lewis writes graceful prose, and not the least lively part of this admirable, book are his occasional digressions on our own century.