Books: What Daring Did & Didn't

BURTON by Byron Farwell. 431 pages. Holt, Rinehart & Winston. $5.95.

When Richard Burton was eight years old, his mother paraded him up to a pastry shop window. As he admired the delicacies inside, she ordered him to walk on, remarking piously, "It is so good for little children to restrain themselves." Enraged, Burton smashed the glass, clawed out a tray of apple puffs, and ran. It was 1829. A lifelong battle between the unrestrainable appetites of Richard Francis Burton* and the tastes of Victorian England had been joined.

Unhappily, both sides lost. During most...