Mr. W. D. Howells' Suburban Sketches in the neighbor hood of Cambridge and Boston are characterized by many of the same features which are so charming in his well known pictures of Italian life. The fluent style, the kindly humor, the quaint suggestiveness, are all present; we only miss the quality which is superior to them all, the naturalness which was so conspicuous in those sketches and which seems to be in a degree wanting in these. Perhaps it is because of the defect in the matter, but some how or other Cambridge and Boston, and the Horse Railroad which connects the two, which last feature figures very prominently in these sketches, do not seem to furnish the material for picturesque effects and unforced humor that seemed so abundant in the street sights and the house life of Venice. For this reason the achievements of the writer, though by no means inferior, are somewhat strained and forced. The humor is sought after, rather than comes of itself, the picturesqueness is painfully constructed, rather than fused of material that cannot be disjoined. But for all these drawbacks and defects, these sketches will be read with delight by many readers ; the humor, the picturesque effects and the charm of style are all still present, though they come in under constraint. So also are the human sympathies, of which Mr. Howells has no need to be ashamed, although the atmosphere of Boston seems to have exerted upon them a somewhat repressive influence.
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