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156 YEARS AGO. .


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LITERARY NOTICES. NEW BOOKS. "DAN LENO" (By J. Hickory Wood. London: Methuen and Co., 6s.).—The legion admirers ajid friends of Dan Leno, the great comedian, will thank Mr. Hickory Wood for his kindly and enter- taining biography of a famous artist. That the subject was well worthy of I the labour here ex- pended no one in the present generation will dare to question. From abject, squalid poverty Dan Leno raised himself to the pinnacle of fame in his own particular calling, and while his career as a comedian was in every sense enviable, his record as a man and a friend is equally praiseworthy. The story of Dick Whittington is not a whit more sensational than the meteoric career of Dan Leno, who as a boy danced and sang for coppers in common public-houses in Lancashire and ae a man commanded the princely salary of jE200 a week as the first entertaner of his kind in the country, besides enjoying iho distinction of acting before his Sovereign at dringham. It is an error, the biographer shews, to believe that. Dan Leno in his younger days was a clog-dancer pure and simple, and only took to songs in his later years. It is true he excelled in twisting and shuffling the heavy and fantastic clog, and even became the champion clog-dancer of the world; but in his youth he cultivated his other histrionic gifts, and when he went to London he conquered it by his inimitable drollery on the stage much more than by his steps. While the story of Leno's youthful wrestles with adversity would melt a-heart of stone, his later successes on the stage have filled many a struggling artist with envy. London certainly performed an excellent service to the country by preferring Leno's witticisms to his agility, for, much as there may have been in the twinkling feet, his sparkling brain contained infinitely more. The narration of his life history here set forth is complete from the early beginning to the sadly too early end. It is treated throughout in a kindly, sympathetic, admiring spirit, and the reader, who is permitted to peep considerably behind the scenes, is left in douDt whether most to admire tho man or the actor, the inspired plodder who fought his way to the top of his pro- fession, or the generous-hearted fellow who never turned his back on the beggar, even though he more than suspected a fraud. While the biography of Dan Leno will live as a record of a notable man, it will attain much popularity from the wealth of diverting anecdote enclosed within its boards. As an example of Leno's irrepressible merriment, a characteristic anecdote of his last- sad days is recorded. It Was during the period of his necessitated retirement to a home for the restoration of his shattered brain:— On the second day after his arrival, it is said, he got up an argument- with one of the attendants about the correctness of the hall clock. "That clock's wrong," he said, re- ferring to hits own watch. "No, sir," contradicted the attendant, "the clock is quite right." "I tell you it's wrong," persisted Dan. "No, sir," repeated the other, "it's quite right." "Then," said Dan, with the old gleam of fun in his eyes, if it's quite right., what's it doing here?" "THE LADY OF LYTE" (by Graham Hope. London: Methuen and Cb.; 6?.)\—This is a his- torical novel dealing with the later portion of the reign of Charles II. and the events centreing round the Popish Plot. The frivolity and arti- ficiality of the period are depicted in, life-like terms Very good are the sketches of Halifax and Shaftesbury, the men with whom the religious strifes and rancours were merely counters in the game of politics. The strong points in the story are the tone and .spirit of the character delinea- tion. Jesuits, Puritans, Quakers and people of all shades of opinion pass across- the stage, and the author's aim is to shew that noble spirits are everywhere akin, and that, character, not opinions, is the supreme test. The heroine. Lady Kathleen Clifford, is a charming creation. Beau- tiful, impetuous, generous and lovable, she wins all hearts. Taken to the court of the "Merry Monarch," she is enraptured by the glittering and sparkling throngs of courtiers. Child-like, her eyea are blind to all beneath the surface of things, and her innocence is her own sure defence, and I protection. In the end she turns her back upon her train of galhwts., and is won by her Puritan cousin, whose strength and power appeal irre- sistibly to her imagination. Of no less absorbing interest, i." too life fitOry of her guardians, Lady Anne Nugent and Claudius Cunninghame. Parted in youth, they are- brought together by their duties to Kathleen, and! when catastrophe occurs to him. now a Jesuit priest, in their death they are not. divided. "MORE PEEPS INTO BIRD LIFE" (by Alicia Donne. Chester: PIN,Ilipson and Golder). —The aim of the writer of this volume is to in- terest the young in birds, flowers and the beauties of nature. Its pages shew much loving, patient and careful observation, and, being unpretending in its aim. no doubt it will achieve its purpose Whsn this has bfieat, said, a pernua.,d its c. '7,t:¡:






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