This is a poetry book. This unknown balladist was Mr. Henley; perhaps he was the first Englishman who ever burst into a double ballade, and his translations of two of Villon's ballades into modern thieves' slang were marvels of dexterity. Mr. Swinburne wrote a serious ballade, but the form, I venture to think, is not 'wholly serious', of its nature, in modern days; and he did not persevere. Nor did the taste for these trifles long endure. A good ballade is almost as rare as a good sonnet, but a middling ballade is almost as easily written as the majority of sonnets. Either form readily becomes mechanical, cheap and facile. I have heard Mr. George Meredith improvise a sonnet, a Petrarchian sonnet, obedient to the rules, without pen and paper. He spoke 'and the numbers came'; he sonneted as easily as a living poet, in his Eton days, improvised Latin elegiacs and Greek hexameters.