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In an earlier volume of reminiscences, "The End of a Chapter," Mr. Leslie recovered his conviction that the World War closed an era that has gone forever. The old life of social and political stability has given way to a life of uncertainty, so that the post-war world is really in transition, a 'passing chapter' to no man knows what.
An Irishman, and therefore a wit, Mr. Leslie manages to compress many an event into a memorable epigram, and he can describe many a contemporary personage with the economy natural to metaphor. The immorality that accompanied night-clubs is chronicled wittily in this adaptation of Holy Writ; a night-club is a place
"Where the Chaperons cease from troubling
And the Virgins are no more."
And a certain 'saeva indignatio'--the indignation of the true social satirist--is in this definition: "One of the few lines left can be drawn between women who can be bought by the advertisers or not." "The Victorian Peeresses would have rather sold themselves in private," Mr. Leslie informs us, "than given their faces away with a box of cream." O tempera! O mores!
Mr. Leslie is neither the familiar "laudator temporis acti" not the unheeded prophet wailing in the wilderness, He does not come to censure or to praise. His general purpose is not historical, of course, for that adjective would be too dignified for one man's impressions of the times in which he lives.
While there is much in this book which will be unfamiliar to American readers, the personalities of English social and political life, the peculiar institutions of England, in general it may be said that "The Passing Chapter" is a book for everybody, like E. F. Benson's "As We Are" and Dr. Wingfield-Stratford's "Victorian Aftermath."
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