The Criterion; Or the Test of Talk About Familiar Things

A Series of Essays. By HENRY T. TUCKERMAN. New York: Hurd and Houghton. 1866,
MR. TUCKERMAN’S books, if they possess no great value as works of original thought, are characterized by the hardly less desirable quality of unfailing good taste. He has a quiet and meditative way of treating those topics of literature and art with which he chiefly loves to deal, and has much in him which reminds of the race of essayists preceding the brilliant dogmatists of our time ; and we confess that we find a great enjoyment in the lazy mood in which he here gossips of twenty desultory matters. The name of the present work is, to be sure, a somewhat formidable mask under which to hide the cheerful visage of a rambler among Inns, Pictures, Sepulchres, Statues and Bridges, and a tattler of Authors, Doctors, Holidays, Lawyers, Actors, Newspapers, and Preachers ; but it is only a mask after all, and the talk really tests nothing, — not even the reader’s patience. With much charming information from books concerning these things, Mr. Tuckerman agreeably blends personal know!edge of many of the subjects. Bits of reminiscence drift down the tranquil current of story and anecdote, and there is just enough of intelligent comment and well-bred discussion to give each paper union and direction. In tine, “ The Criterion” is one of the best of that very pleasant class of books made for the days of unoccupied men and the half-hours of busy ones, — which may be laid down at any moment without offence to their purpose, and taken up again with profit to their readers.