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It is no exaggeration to say that under these conditions when the style is good the matter is good also. One can hardly arrange thoughts in the right form without finding that the material of thought has deserved that dignity. The one thing reacts upon the other, and it scarcely matters at which end of the process one begins. On the whole, we think Lord Crewe's praise of the style of English journalism is deserved. It is an easy fashion to speak of "journalese"; but it is a fact, we believe, that while sensation, vulgarity and "personalities" have grown unconscionably, there is less "fine writing" than formerly. In certain daily newspapers the leading articles are written with an art of dialectic and a purity of language which are often to seek in writers who expressly call themselves men of letters, and perhaps join in the facile condemnation of "journalism." Speed in production, after all, does not necessarily mean slovenliness in a mind which has the instinct for choosing and arranging words, and has had much practice. R. L. Stevenson used austerely to distinguish between literature and journalism, and, if we remember rightly, laid it down that haste was the fatal barrier to style. Yet this consummate and most sensitive master of style recorded that at least once he wrote a portion of a novel at a rate which is seldom equalled by a leaderwriter. Sir Walter Scott, of course, wrote with incredible rapidity. A fortnight for one of his novels! What journalist could live the pace? "Fine writing," we say, is being abolished. As Lord Crewe remarked, few writers nowadays emulate the French gentleman who, in asking a Swiss servant to let out the dog, addressed him thus: "Child of the Helvetii, conduct to the place of egress that four-footed emblem of fidelity." We have heard it told of an editor of a former day that he
name, and an ugly brevity of statement, all these things seemed to match one another, and the name of Wragg stood before his eyes as the symbol of it all. "What a touch of grossness!" he exclaims. "What an original shortcoming in the more delicate spiritual perceptions is shown by the natural growth amongst us of such hideous names,—Higginbottom, Stiggins, Bugg. In Ionia and Attica they were luckier in this respect than 'the best race in the world'; by the Ilissus there was no Wragg, poor thing!" If the reporter of Wragg's crime had "written it up," had even given Wragg a Christian name, his few lines probably would not have horrified Arnold. We are not arguing, of course, in favor of a brutal curtness, which was one of the things Arnold was by implication condemning. But the paragraph at least shows that the merest statement of fact may create an impression which conscious elaboration would destroy. In great affairs, when the facts are themselves tremendous, this is invariably so. Even the subtlest of literary effects, such as irony, may be inherent in a succession of events, simply stated, and explanation would destroy the flavor. The facts have only to be set down, and the irony glows forth. There is a great power of persuasion in simplicity, just because the writer does not seem to be fiercely interested in convincing his reader.
Simplicity is the beginning of all style, and Lord Crewe was right, we think, to advise all journalists to study style. He did not mean that they ought to become "stylists," for that ugly word, we fear, has come to denote a certain preciosity, or affectation, which is offered in and out of season by its professors, whether it be appropriate to its subject or not. True style consists in a perfectly appropriate adaptation of the means to the end.
said to his leader-writers: "What our readers want is common-sense expressed in turgid English." The common-sense was appreciated because it was understood, and was just what the reader had been thinking himself, and the turgidity, we suppose, gave it an air of mystery, importance, and authority. If that kind of thing is no longer required, it is because public perception is better. Inflation has ceased to be commonly confused with dignity. The majority of readers would ridicule, if they did not resent, the practice of calling a grouse "the feathered denizen of the moors," or a cricket-ball "the leathern missile." We remember a characteristic piece of inflation discovered in a leading article in a popular newspaper in a former generation. It ran something like this: "though the oats may be of diamond dust and the manger of beaten gold, yet in the loose-box there is a pale horse the name of whose rider is Death." The words make a picture for the mind which is imposing at the first glance, and then one realizes the utter fatuity of the pale horse being ridden round the loose-box by his grim attendant. Again, it is perhaps less of a habit than it used to be to think that elegance is ensured by a steady refusal to repeat a word. As though circumlocutions could take the place of the one and only right word, or of a pronoun! Who has not read such portentous elegancies as this:-"We regret to learn that the Prime Minister has sustained an injured leg. It is believed that the right honorable gentleman will be confined to his house for some days. His doctor has carefully attended to the injured limb, and if no complications should ensue, it is the medical attendant's opinion that the distinguished statesman should be able-," and so on.
Of course there is such a thing as a false simplicity, which is nearly as
bad as turgidity. Like the woman of whom Congreve wrote:
Careless she is with artful care, Affecting to seem unaffected,
writing condemns itself by a self-conscious naïveté. Mr. William Watson has described something like this offence in the lines:
And some go pranked in faded antique dress,
Abhorring to be hale and glad and free,
And some parade a conscious naturalness, The scholar's, not the child's, simplicity.
The greatest art, indeed, is to hide art. But what are we to say of art which peeps out leeringly from under the mask? That is an affront to the reader. True simplicity is sincere, and the virtues of it cannot be insisted on too much in the case of journalism, which is largely taken up with stating facts. An insincere statement of facts,what could be a greater outrage, yet what is more common? Simplicity would serve all the purposes which the most sensational editor requires. This has been proved in literature over and over again. Take the wonderfully simple words which are alone used to produce the terrifying effect of murder in Macbeth when the ghost of Banquo is seen and Macbeth groans out:
The times have been, That, when the brains were out, the man would die.
There could not be a better economy of words; yet all is said,-terror is complete. Take, again, the pure simplicity of "The Ancient Mariner." We think of the words in which the ghosts appear and handle the ropes on board the stricken ship:
The body of my brother's son
The eeriness of the idea of the living man and the corpse in contact pulling at one rope is incomparable. One has a thrill every time one comes upon the The Spectator.
BOOKS AND AUTHORS
People who are studying Esperanto, and those who are merely playing with it, will be interested in a condensed edition of Robinson Crusoe in Esperanto, which the Henry Altemus Co. of Philadelphia publish.
Under the title "Sermons That Have Helped," E. P. Dutton & Co. publish twenty or more discourses preached by the Right Rev. James H. Van Buren, D.D., Bishop of Porto Rico. They are all addressed to present day needs, and recognize the difficulties which beset Christian faith and Christian living. They make no pretence to erudition, and their dominant purpose is indicated in the title.
lines; yet simpler words could not have been chosen from the whole English language.
To the exquisite series of English Idylls, in which already one or two of Jane Austen's novels have appeared, there is added this season "Mansfield Park,"--decorated, like the preceding volumes, with twenty-four colored illustrations by C. E. Brock. No one has succeeded better than Mr. Brock in portraying the life, habits and dress of this period. The characters of the gentle novelist live again in his delightful pictures and with the added attractions of clear typography and dainty binding the book appeals strongly to lovers of Jane Austen. E. P. Dutton & Co.
A unique anthology is that entitled "The Ideal of a Gentleman" of which E. P. Dutton & Co. are the American publishers. It is edited by A. SmythePalmer, D.D., and represents the read
ing and research of twenty years. The editor's aim has been, as he expresses it, to "hive up" whatever has been written by divines or philosophers, by poets or dramatists, by novelists or essayists in praise or exemplification of the beautiful character of a true gentleman, and the range of the selections extends from an Egyptian moralist who wrote more than five thousand years ago to William Watson and other writers of to-day.
This is the year of sympathy for the red-haired heroine, and she who gives her name to Miss Marguerite Bouvet's "Clotilde" deserves both pity and sympathy for her pretty young mother dislikes her, takes her away from her loving little brother and sends her to a convent school. There she finds an agreeable and highly amusing playmate and imbibes so much Christian charity that when her unkind mother is impoverished by her extravagance the little daughter gladly comes to her succor with her private fortune. The story abounds in the pretty French sentiment found in books written for convent bred children, but neither the author nor the tale is Catholic. A. C. McClurg Co.
In their very pretty "Remarque Series" the H. M. Caldwell Co. publish a collection of "Poems from Punch," edited by Sir Francis C. Burnand of "happy thoughts" fame, so long the editor of Punch. The poems grouped together here were published at various times from the year 1841, in which Punch was established, down to 1884.
Here are Hood's Song of the Shirt, Tennyson's After-Thought, Thackeray's The Mahogany Tree, Tom Taylor's penitent tribute to Abraham Lincoln and many other noteworthy bits of verse which first appeared in Punch, and about which and their writers the editor of this little book is able to supply details known only to those who were in the inner councils of the paper. The same publishers add to their series of Great Art Galleries a little volume which contains sixty reproductions of pictures in the Glasgow Gallery.
To any one who welcomed Mr.
Richard Watson Gilder's first slender volume, "The New Day," thirty-three years ago, as the writer of this paragraph chanced to do,-as evidence of the advent of a new poet, it gives peculiar pleasure to turn over the pages of the Household Edition of Mr. Gilder's complete poems, just published by the Houghton Mifflin Co. This volume, which appears in a dress uniform with that in which so many of the elder poets have been presented, contains poems which have made up at least ten small volumes during the last thirty-three years. For a full generation, then, Mr. Gilder has been singing these graceful lyrics, with no abatement of delicacy or beauty, but with an increasing seriousness and grasp of the things of the spirit. The promise of the first little book of verse has been abundantly fulfilled; and there is no living American poet who approaches Mr. Gilder in range, in delicacy, in beauty of thought and feeling and expression.
Miss Selma Lagerlöf has long been known in the United States as the favorite novelist of the Swedish court and of the Swedish people, and her "Christ Legends," translated by Miss Velma Swanston Howard, should intro
duce her to a goodly company of the little ones. She introduces them by a beautiful sketch of a devout grandmother sitting all day long in her corner with a story always ready for the grandchildren, "a story true," as true as that I see you and you see me, and then she depicts the sadness when the corner stood vacant and all the songs and stories were driven from the homestead and "never came back again." She tells this legend and ten others with a fine simplicity, which makes reading them very like an act of devotion for a grown person, but sets them clearly before a child as tales to be accepted with loving reverence. The volume is appropriate for a Christmas gift for any one, old or young. Henry Holt & Co.
Mr. Booth Tarkington can write a much better French story now than was possible when he made his bow to American readers with "Monsieur Beaucaire," and his new story, "The Guest of Quesnay," contains one of the prettiest descriptions of a French inn and its head-waiter that has been written for many a day. But the Inn and the waiter are but the background for the extraordinary personage from whom the book takes its title. This man gray-haired, but with the face of a boy, ignorant of the smallest social observances, honest, gentle, and wonderfully prepossessing is a mystery to the head waiter and his satellites, to the guests at a neighboring chateau and to the narrator of the story, but he soon plucks out the heart, and derives so much pleasure from the process that it would be cruel, by a prosaic revelation, to deprive the reader of the same delight. The tale is pure comedy but for a dark episode at its very outset, and would cheer those young gentlemen of Prince Arthur's acquaintance who were sad as night. The McClure Co.
Mr. Ralph Henry Barbour's "My Lady of the Fog" is one of those pretty tales of wooing printed in the summer magazines apparently that innocent man may read them in railway trains and arrive at the country-house, hotel or camp whither he is going, fully convinced that it is his duty, and what is more, his destiny, to woo and to marry. Having produced this desirable result, with the approach of autumn the chrysalis splits the covers of the magazine and emerges a butterfly book in gorgeous raiment of cover, and colored picture, and emblematic borders, ready for the good young man to present to the pretty girl as "The story that brought us together, darling." It is an excellent specimen of the variety, with a possible plot showing a comparatively poor young man winning the heart of a fabulously rich maiden, and offering to retire upon discerning the loftiness of the bough upon which the prize hangs; and it is to be hoped that none whom it served last summer will forget it now. Other readers will surely find it equally efficacious in its present form. J. B. Lippincott Co.
in the same vein, he places four chapters telling the story of the play and aided by the colored full page pictures and black and white sketches, and many of the songs and choruses with their music, he sets the modern child above the privations named in the preface. No better introduction to English wit and humor could possibly be devised than the study of "The Pinafore Picture Book." Properly distributed it may exterminate the disagreeable American ignoramus who is proud to say that "he cannot understand Punch." The Macmillan Co.
After the "Bab Ballads" and "H. M. S. Pinafore," comes "The Pinafore Picture Book" told by Sir W. S. Gilbert and illustrated by Miss Alice B. Woodward, and what fun the boys and girls of 1908 are going to have in reading it! Sir William gives the very good reasons for which the book is printed: that many very young ladies and gentlemen are never taken to the theatre at all, and that even when taken their visit is often fruitless because of cart wheel hats with bunches of wobbling feathers worn by ill-bred and selfish ladies; that it is sometimes difficult for them to follow the story; and that the opera is not played in every town every night in the year as it should be. After these serious remarks, and others
The volumes of the Variorum Shakespeare wax more and more with each successive play, and "The Tragedy of Richard the Third with the Landing of Earle Richmond and the Battell at Bosworth Field," with its 641 pages, would seem formidable were it almost any book but itself, but the right Shakespearean scholar will find it none too large. In the preface, the editor discusses the vexed question of the six Quartos and the Folio, "the stolen and surreptitious," and the "cured and perfect of [its] limbes," to say nothing of the second Folio and the other two Quartos. The play itself, with its notes, occupies over 400 pages; in the Appendix, the text, the date of composition, and the source of the plot are set forth; "The True Tragedie of Richard III" is printed in full; and also English and German criticisms of the character of Richard, of the text, and of the actors who have played Richard are given; the Ballad of "The Babes in the Wood" is printed in full with some account of the supposed connection between it and the play, and many minor matters are added. The printing is excellent, and the paper of a species to outlast the quality used for works of less importance. Happy they who have the leisure to enjoy every line of such an ad