The William Henry Letters

By MR. A. M. DIAZ. With Illustrations. Boston: Fields, Osgood, & Co.
THE reluctance which one feels to speak of a charming book lest he do it the injustice of overpraise need not trouble us with respect to “ The William Henry Letters,” for the reason simply that, taking the book for just what it attempts to be, it would be hard, if not impossible, to overpraise it. If you like you can find fault with it for being what it is, though we see no cause for this ; but there is no question that it is exactly and thoroughly true ; that it is as much a part of life as tlie blossoms and the final pippins are part of an appletree. It is nothing more than the letters which a good, hearty, wholesome-spirited country-bred boy of ten years writes home from school to his grandmother, telling her of his adventures in this first absence from her doting care and love. In some introductory passages, and some other passages interspersing the letters, the author makes us personally acquainted with this grandmother of William Henry, and his father and his Uncle Jacob, and his Uncle Jacob’s family, who are all country-people living in New England, and are so natural and individual, from the oldest to the youngest, that the only incredible thing about them is that they do not step out of the book, and confront ns as flesh-and-blood presences. Mrs. Diaz’s success in depicting them, in setting so simply and easily before us their character and circumstances, makes us feel that the elders, not to say the betters, of the children have a claim upon her faculty which she ought to satisfy. But perhaps as it is, we enjoy better than the boys themselves would the reality of William Henry’s boyishness : they might not find anything extraordinary in it ; and whereas we find it an almost exceptional thing in literature, they might only look upon him as a boy like any other boy, not knowing the extreme difficulty of painting a boy so as to make him like any other boy. Still, they cannot help liking him, we are certain, and we hope that some of the older boys will feel what a great gift — even if they do not understand what a very rare gift it is — portrays him. Among American women, Mrs. Diaz has no better as a humorist of the purest and kindliest quality.