an introductory study to the history of Porthmadog, he has, however, made a valuable contribution to the maritime history of north Wales. Local studies of this kind help to fill in many of the gaps that still exist in Welsh regional economic and social history. Moreover, by involving the pupils of Ysgol Eifionnydd and members of local extra-mural classes in the task of collecting historical evidence for this book, Mr. Eames hopes to stimulate participation in further research on the history of Porthmadog. This is an admirable way of teaching local history. In steering Porthmadog Ships into print, Mr. Eames has laid down a solid foundation for further local research. The book has been attractively produced by Gee and Son, Denbigh. It contains excellent illustrations which give an added dimension to the narrative. The officers of the Gwynedd Archives Service are to be congratulated on initiating this publication and thus making a valuable contribution to the history of the area they primarily serve. But the book will, undoubtedly, appeal to a much wider public. It should, perhaps, be read in conjunction with Immortal Sails (Prescot, Lancs., 1969) by Lt.-Col. Henry Hughes, brother of the compiler of the 'Porthmadoc Ships', who shared with him the same love and enthusiasm for the history of Porthmadog and its ships. MOELWYN WILLIAMS National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth. RICHARD PAYNE KNIGHT: THE TWILIGHT OF VIRTUOSITY. By Frank J. Messmann. Mouton, 1974. Pp. 178. 34 Fl. Richard Payne Knight, Herefordshire landowner and scholarly 'virtuoso', is best known today as a prominent protagonist in the late- eighteenth-century controversy about the nature of the picturesque and as the owner-architect of Downton Castle, one of the earliest and most original buildings in the 'gothic' style. Less well known are the many other activities and publications which contributed to his contemporary reputation-and notoriety: his long political career as M.P. for Leominster and later for Ludlow, and his rather more vocal participation in public life as respected critic and connoisseur, pillar of the Society of Dilettanti, founder of the British Institution and trustee of the British Museum; the passion for collecting which enabled him to bequeath 'some of the finest examples of ancient sculpture in bronze in existence' to the British Museum; and the eventual collapse of his reputation following his misjudgement of the Elgin Marbles. Among his prolific writings are commentaries on Homer, a philological treatise on the Greek alphabet a didactic poem, The Progress of Civil Society, and studies-considered controversial, even scandalous, at the time-of Priapic worship among the ancients and of the sexual symbolism of classical art. Frank J. Messmann's brief 'critical biography' is the first book to tackle the entire, dauntingly wide range of Payne Knight's activities and interests. The author aims to 'supplement previous biographical sketches' and to provide an analysis of all Payne Knight's published work. Unfortunately, he brings little enthusiasm or critical insight to the task.