Essayist Kronenberger's oriel windowseat is well above the madding crowd as he regards art and mores, now and then, here and abroad, with fastidious dispassion. This collection of essays includes material from his other books with a new grouping of book reviews. His observations on American ways of the '60's -- the corruption of privacy and good manners, the bias toward the package rather than the product -- give a backhanded boost to an unAmerican skeptical humanism: ""To a nation that worships God and Mammon both there must be something profoundly uncongenial in an attitude that blindly worships nothing."" Nothing here is worshiped, but there are ""magnificences"" enjoyed -- the lasting individualistic literature of the American '20's; a sampling of 18th century English architecture; Gibbon and Walpole and Adams. There is an amusing commentary on railroads, speculations on the '20's and '30's and pursuits in other eras -- the Sun King, the Byrons, Regency society, the Victorians, and the sway of those grand saloons. An eclectic manifestation of manias ""moot and mixed"" and therein lies a clue to Kronenberger's special audience.