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From The Spectator. that English humor is only in its infancy THE FUTURE OF ENGLISH HUMOR. and that we are likely to have an immense
multiplication of its surprises, rather than The publication of Mr. Ainger's little that it is already in the sere and yellow book on Charles Lamb, one of the truest leaf. The truth is, no doubt, that as huand most unique of all the great English man competition increases, there is a tenhumorists, has set people talking, as peo- dency to refine and subdivide and think ple always will talk, of the superiority of more exclusively about a succession :of the past over the present, and the gradual trifles, which is not favorable to the larger decay of the forms of life which make humor; but then this very tendency the past so fascinating. “ Will there ever drives men into opposition to it, makes be such another humorist as Charles them eager to steep ihemselves, as Charles Lamb?” said one literary man, during Lamb steeped himself, in the dramatic the present week, to another. “Is there life of a more spontaneous' age, and the not a tendency at work in our modern life contrast brings to light ever new forms of to the pettification of everything, till the that grotesque and conscious inconsishighest form of humor which the public tency and incompatibility between human will enjoy is the form given in Mr. Gil- desire and human condition, on which the bert's operettas
and Mr. Burnand's sense of humor feeds. When Charles ‘Happy Thoughts.'?” The interlocutor Lamb called Coleridge “an archangel, interrogated wisely reserved judgment, a little damaged,” he painted the contrast thinking reserve wise, as the judges do on between human ideas and human expegreat occasions, and suspecting that pes. rience in its most perfect form. But simism is always apt to be out in its reck- every new generation is probably richer oning, moreover, that it is rather a hasty in suggestions of that kind than all the thing to assume that because our clever- preceding generations put together, for est operettas and contributions to Punch ihis, if for no other reason, that whether may leave something in the way of large- we still believe in the ideals of the past ness to be desired, largeness of humor is or not, as future realities, we never cease dying out in the world. And, indeed, if to yearn after them, and to yearn after we only consider what stores of fun Hood, them all the more that they excite less who was one of Lamb's youngest friends, active hope, while the accumulating expeproduced; then that before Lamb's death, rience of centuries brings us face to face ihe greatest English humorist of any age with the oddest and most grotesque forms - Shakespeare himself not excepted of disappointment and disillusion. No was beginning to try his wings; further, contrast could have been more striking, that one of the greatest of Dickens's for instance, than that between Coleridge's contemporaries, Thackeray, though much eloquent expositions of divine philosophy more of a satirist than a humorist, was and faith, and his own helpless life, spong. still a humorist of a very high order; ing on the hospitality of Good Samaritans, moreover, that while both of them were and leaving his family to the generosity in the maturity of their powers, a totally of friends. And no condition of the new school of humor of the most original world can be reasonably expected in kind sprang into existence on the other which contrasts of that pathetic kind will side of the Atlantic, of which the present not be multiplied rather than diminished American minister to this country is the in number, or in which it may not reasonacknowledged master, — the “Biglow Pa. ably be expected that the eye to discern pers” having scarcely been surpassed and the power to make us feel these conin either kind or scale of humor since the trasts will be multiplied at the same time. world began; and finally, that to prove In some respects, though in some only, that very true humor of slighter calibre is Charles Lamb's humor anticipates the plentiful enough, we have the extraordi- type of humor which we now call, in the nary popularity and originality of such main, American. When, for instance, he books as “ Alice in Wonderland” on this gravely narrated the origin of the Chinese side of the Atlantic, and of trifles like invention of roast pig, in the burning down Artemus Ward's various lectures, Hans of a house, when he told a friend that he Breitmann's ballads, and Bret Harte's had moved just forty-two inches nearer to “ Heathen Chinee,” on the other side of his beloved London, and again, when he the Atlantic, to bring up in evidence, wrote to Manning in China that the new we suspect that it would be much more Persian ambassador was called “Shaw plausible, looking at the matter from the Ali Mirza,” but that the common people point of view of mere experience, to argue | called him “Shaw Nonsense,” we might
were listening to Artemus the carpenter, provide us with a type of Ward's or Mark Twain's minute and seri- grotesque fancy almost cut free from
But for the most part, the realities of life, and yet quaintly reCharles Lamb's humor is more frolic-producing all the old human tendencies some, more whimsical, and less subdued under absurdly new conditions ; nor that in its extravagance; more like the gam- this promises well for the infinite flexibilbolling of a mind which did not care to ity of the laughing faculty in man. conceal its enjoyment of paradox, and less We quite admit that we never expect like the inward invisible laughter in which to see the greater types of transatlantic the Yankees most delight. Lamb dearly humor reproduced on this side of the Atloved a frisk. And when, for instance, he lantic. These, for the most part, imply a blandly proposed to some friend who rare faculty for turning the mind aside offered to wrap up for him a bit of old from the direct way of saying a thing to cheese which he had seemed to like at one that is so indirect as to lead you travdinner, to let him have a bit of string elling on a totally opposite track, as, for with which he could probably "lead it example, when Bret Harte declares ibat home,” there was certainly nothing in him one of his rowdies of the grim impassiveness of Yankee ex
took a point of order when travagance.
A chunk of old red sandstone hit him in the It might be asserted, perhaps, that even abdomen, if the prospect of a great suture for En. And he smiled a kind o' sickly smile, and glish humor is good, there is still reason curled up on the floor, to fear that it must dwindle in largeness And the subsekent proceedings interested him of conception, so that such massive forms
no more ; of humor as we find, for instance, in
or when the American blasphemer re“ Gulliver's Travels" or the “ Tale of a torted that if his censor had but "jumped Tub,” are not likely to return.
out of bed on to the business end of a tin. this we greatly doubt. As we noticed
tack, even he would have cursed some.” just now, Dickens, who, as a humorist was This wonderful power of suggesting misprobably not inferior in conception, and leading analogies taken from the very certainly more abundant in creation, than province which would seem to be least any humorist in the world, is wholly suggested either by analogy or contrast, modern, and he certainly has by no means seems to be, in some sense, indigenous exhausted the field even of that sort of in the United States, and no one is so humor in which he himself was most po- great a master of it as Mr. Lowell himself, tent. The field of what we may call ideal. iho has made the sayings of John P. ized vulgarities, which includes sketches Robinson and of Birdofredom Sawin of the abstract monthly nurse whose every famous all over the world, for their illus. thought and action breathe the fawning tration of this very power of interlacing brutalities of the Mrs. Gamp species, of beadles who incarnate all beadledom, bors nor mental contrasts, but simply
thoughts which are neither mental neighi. of London pickpockets who have assim, utterly unlikely to suggest each other. ilated all that is entertaining in the world To give one instance of this, we will reof professional slang and nothing that is calloBirdofredom Sawin's comment on disgusting, – of boarding-house keepers the powerfully persuasive influence of whose whole mind is transformed into an being tarred and feathered, and taken instrument for providing enough food and
round the village astride of a rail, for gravy and amusement for their commer
your opinions, where he remarks that cial gentlemen, - of water-rate collectors glorified by one ideal passion for the bal
Riding on a rail let, — of rascally schoolmasters whose Makes a man feel unanermous as Jonah in the
whale. every action betrays the coward and the bully, - or of hypocrites who secrete airs Why the United States should seem to of pretentious benevolence as an oil. have a very special affinity for this spe. gland secretes oil, is by no means ex- cies of humor it may seem difficult to hausted, hardly more than attacked. divine. Perhaps it is that amongst our And yet it promises a sort of humor par- kinsmen there the principle of utility ticularly well adapted to this period of at bas gained what we may call a really once almost sordid realism and ingenious imaginative ascendancy over all minds, tó abstraction. Nor can it be denied that a degree to which it has never yet touched “ Alice in Wonderland,” especially such the imagination of Europe, and that this plaintive ballads as that of the walrus and / has resulted not only in the marvellous
inventiveness which Americans have al. I concerning the so-called Japanese coralways shown in the small devices of lium that I send the present notes. practical life, but in the discovery of an late meeting of the Zoological Society, almost new class of mental associations, Nir. G. O. Ridley, of the British Museum, — such as that which distinguishes the read a paper on the Corallida, and rehead of the nail from the point as sleep-viewed the species known, and exbibited ing and working partners in the same specimens of the form said to come from operation, or such as that which suggested Japan. I obtained specimens of this to a reader of the story of Jonah, that if corallium from Mr. Cutter, the London the prophet had had to pass resolutions dealer, from whom I first learned that as to the desirability of getting out of a precious coral was called Japanese. He the whale's belly, he would certainly have told me that he had seen a large quantity passed them with something very much in the market in London, but that it would like the unaniinity of an assembly, in not fetch any price, whereas Messrs. which the completeness of the concord is Greck state that Japanese coral sold for caused by stress of circumstances. The an extremely high price in Italy. Messrs. humor of the United States, if closely Phillips, of Cockspur Street, who also examined, will be found to depend in exhibited a fine series of specimens of great measure on the ascendancy which precious coral at one of my lectures, the principle of utility has gained over showed amongst them a carved jewel cut the imaginations of a rather imaginative out of Japanese coral, which is remarkpeople. And utility is a principle which (able as being of mixed color, marbled has certainly, not yet completed its ca- white and red, and also, as they informed reer,
even in the way of suggesting me, for its far greater hardness than what
to us the strangest and ordinary precious coral. quaintest of all strange and quaint analo- Now although this coral, which is of a gies.
named species, is evidently universally regarded in the trade as Japanese, all evidence available seems to prove that no precious coral occurs in Japan. The
Challenger” did not meet with any; and
though I inquired, I heard of none as PRECIOUS CORAL.
dredged there. Moreover, in numerous Whilst preparing a set of lectures on Japanese illustrated works on the races of corals, lately delivered at the Royal In- men, certain foreigners of some kind are stitution, I made some inquiries as to represented as bearing in their hands the present state of the fisheries of pre- precious coral as tribute, or as the staple cious coral from Messrs. Greck and Co., produce of their country, thus showing coral merchants, of Rathbone Place, who apparently that the coral is regarded as also have an establishment at Naples. something rare from abroad in Japan. They exhibited a very fine series of ex. Perhaps, some of the correspondents of amples of raw and worked coral at one Nature in Japan can state whether any of my lectures, and also sent me the corallium occurs in Japanese waters. following short notes on the Italian and
H. N. MOSELEY. Sicilian coral fisheries, partly taken from an Italian newspaper, but which contain Extract from the letter of Messrs Greck some facts which may be interesting to and Co.:, the readers of Nature. I was shown a 6. Coral fisheries on the coasts of Italy Jarge number of the Sciacca specimens, and Sicily begin about the middle of all attached to groups of bivalve shells or February, and continue till the middle of pieces of dead coral. The blackened October. The value of the coral fished coral is described by Lacaze Duthiers in up varies immensely according to its color his famous monograph as “corail noirci and size; the pale pink is the most prized, dans la vase.” It is very possible that especially if it be of a uniform color the blackening substance is binoxide of throughout, without stains. Off Torre manganese, since we dredged in deep del Greco, near Naples, a large quantity water, during the “Challenger” expedi- of coral is found every year; from four tion, large quantities of a dead coral skel- hundred to six hundred boats are sent out eton, apparently allied to corallium, which in search of it, each boat being of from six was blackened by that substance. It is to ten tons' burden, with a crew of at least in the hope of eliciting some definite in- twelve men, and costing from 500l. to forination from the readers of Naturel oool. a boat. Nearly all the inhabitants
of Torre del Greco are employed by this government despatched a man of war to industry, either as fishermen or in the keep order among the fishermen. Anmanufacture of the coral brought to shore. other similar bed was discovered in 1878, The valuable pink coral is found chiefly about ten miles furtl,er from the coast, off the coast of Sicily: in the year 1973 a and in 1880 yet another still further, to bed was discovered in the Straits of Mes. which six hundred boats were sent, and sina, in which the coral, though found we learn from the reports of the Custom only in small quantities and of a small House at Sciacca that in a few months size, was of immense value, owing to its about eight thousand tons were fished, beautilul pink, of a uniform color, and and although the quality of the coral is without any of those stains which detract very inferior, being of a reddish color and so much from its worth. The coral found often quite black, its value is computed at in this place is sent chiefly to London and several millions of pounds. The coral Birmingham; it is usually manufactured found off the coast of Sciacca does not in the shape of ‘lentils,' and in this form grow as at other places attached to rocks, is largely used for rings, either set singly but is found clinging to any small object in half-loops or surrounded by precious it can lay hold of, such as a shell, or a stones and pearls. Its value varies from fragment of coral. It is supposed that its 801. to upwards of 200l. per ounce. dark red or black color is caused by the
Unfortunately the supply of coral in muddiness of the water in which it lives, this bed seems to have run short, and although the depth of the sea at such for the last few years coral-merchants spots is from three hundred to four hun. have not found it worth their while to dred and fifty feet. This coral is not send boats in search of it. The last at- much esteemed in the English market, tempt was made last year by the firms of but is prepared in large quantities for the Criscuolo and Greck and Co., who de Indian market at Calcutta, by being exspatched two boats with a crew of thirty posed for months to the heat of the sun, selected men, but the find was so small as and by being kept moist, when in time barely to pay the expenses of the outfit. the black color gradually disappears.
"This year out of eight hundred boats “A few years ago a large quantity of employed in the coral fishery off the coast Japanese coral found its way into the of Sicily, not one has been sent to the bed market at Naples, and fetched as much as in the Straits of Messina. In 1875 a 1597. the kilo. in raw branches, in spite of local bed was discovered about twenty its being a bad color and somewhat cloudy: miles off the coast of Sciacca in Sicily, This high price was given on account of which was invaded for the next two years its extraordinary size. It is the largest by seven hundred boats. This nuinber real coral ever known. Nothing has been of boats all crowded together in one spot, heard of it since, excepting that the fish. caused great confusion, and the Italian 'ery was prohibited in Japan.”
THE FOREIGN TRADE OF INDIA. — The re. ment with respect to the cotton duties. Of turns of the foreign trade of India continue to the total increase of 4,420,000l. in the exports, show a great expansion of the exports, accom- no less than 4,284.000l. is due to the enor. panied, however, by a falling off in the im-mous increase in the shipments of wheat, of ports. For the nine months ended the 31st which in the nine months of 1879. India cxDecember last, and the corresponding periods ported only 1,625,194 cwts., while in the cor. of the years 1879 and 1880, the figures are:- responding period of 1981 her shipments
amounted to 15,500,950 cwts.
Of this latter 1880. 6 € £
quantity Britain took fully seven and a quarter Imports of foreign
million cwts., France four million cwts., Bel34,697,700 36,779,600 28,591,600 gium upwards of two million cwts., and HolExports of Indian
land and Egypt each upwards of half a million produce and for
cwts. eign goods 55,307,200 50,886,600 44,365,200
Whether, if the price of wheat in the
United States had not been artificially en. The decline in the imports, as compared with hanced by cliques of speculators, India would 1880, is pretty fully accounted for by a decrease have found a profitable market for her recent of 1,833,000l, in the value of cotton goods, with large consignments may be questioned; but it which the Indian markets seem to have been is certain, at all events, that the curtailment of largely overstocked in 1879, and trade in the American shipments has enabled her very which, moreover, has been adversely affected strikingly to display her great and increasing by uncertainty as to the action of the govern capacities as a grain-producing country.
Fifth Serios, Volume XXXVIII.
No. 1976. – May 6, 1882.
| From Beginning,
270 275 283
CONTENTS. I. MOHAMMEDANISM AND THE OTTOMAN TURKS,
British Quarterly Review,
Nineteenth Century, VII. ODD NOTICES,
Chambers' Journal, VIII. COUNTRY LAWYERS,
Saturday Review, IX. AMBER,
Chambers' Journal, X. PROPHETIC MISANTHROPY,
Spectator, XI. THE LAST ENCYCLICAL,
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