KING'S HANDBOOK OF BOSTON. Profusely illustrated. Cambridge: MOSES KING, Publisher. [Harvard College.] Price, $1.00.
ENCOURAGED by the success of his first attempt, "Harvard and its Surroundings," Mr. King has extended the field of his operations to the neighboring metropolis, and has produced a handbook of Boston. It is, indeed, profusely illustrated, as the title-page states, and the illustrations are of a very heterogeneous character, - wood-cuts, engravings, heliotypes, albertypes, etc. all jumbled together. The book is also profusely crammed with advertisements, which the title-page does not state, - perhaps because it is perfectly evident, for a view of the Mutual Life Insurance Co.'s building occupies most of the page. In fact, Mr. King's ingenuity and audacity in the matter of advertisements are something to be admired. Not satisfied with the liberal amount of advertisements outside of the text, he begins with the title-page and strings them all along through the book. The engraving of one of the Fall-River steamers which is introduced in the middle of the text might just as well be a likeness of George Washington, so far as its connection with a handbook of Boston goes. The accounts of the various hotels and restaurants read almost exactly like advertisements. Thus, in the account of the Parker House appear those familiar lines, "The clarets, etc. are Mr. Parker's direct importation, the result of personal selection from the best European vintages." Ober's receives a handsome notice, and Mr. King informs us that this famous restaurant is patronized by the Aimee Open Company and by the elite of Boston. Whitney's is of course enlarged upon, and the inevitable "Harvard Room" and "mutton-chop weighing a full pound before it is cooked" are dragged in. We drew a sigh of relief, however, to see that Professor Huxley's remarks on the subject of protoplasm were omitted.
Mr. King announces himself on the title-page as a member of Harvard College; he would have done better to have kept that fact to himself. He evidently had some compunctions about proclaiming it in this public manner, for he puts it in brackets. As a matter of taste it would have been better to have left out this statement. It is entirely irrelevant, to say the least.
In many respects this handbook is very much like other handbooks, but it has one original feature, - the headings of the chapters. Mr. King conceived the idea of comparing the different classes of public works, institutions, etc., to the different parts of the human body. He starts off swimmingly with the streets, bridges, sewers, and horse-railroads as arteries, goes on with the railroads and shipping as arms, and then has to give it up temporarily when he gets to hotels and restaurants. We would suggest a comparison of these to the stomach; it is certainly just as appropriate as a comparison of the cemeteries to bones, which is made farther on. Mr. King gets more and more mixed up in his metaphors as he proceeds. The lungs, mind, brain, tongue, soul, heart, pulse, and bones are made to do duty, and by hook or by crook something is scared up to which each of them is compared. But finally the theatres and insurance offices present too many difficulties, and the attempt to continue the metaphor is given up in despair.
In spite of its defects, however, this book is creditable to the author, and will answer the purpose for which it was written very well. Although there is a good deal that might have been left out to advantage, there is also much useful information contained between its covers. It is handsomely printed, and the matter is well arranged. Its low price is probably due to the numerous advertisements it contains. The amount of labor and time spent in getting up the book must have been considerable, and it shows that the author has an unusual amount of business ability. It is no small undertaking to write a handbook of a city like Boston, and the author is to be congratulated on his enterprise in undertaking the task and his success in accomplishing it.