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hand, and if I had purchased it from any other person I should have considered it very expensive.

Some two hours later my wife protested against the absent-mindedness that had distinguished me throughout luncheon.

"I have asked you to tell me the time twice," she said, and I felt for my watch.

And then, as my fingers closed on the air that hitherto had always been displaced by the ancestral timepiece, I solved the problem which had kept me

Punch.

pondering half the morning. I had wondered why the spreader had given me back my penny. Now I knew. He had done so because, on the whole, he felt that he could afford it.

He was a remarkable and talented man, and I have often wondered how he dealt with the person who had given him the tract. I had given him nothing and was a gold watch and twopence to the bad. He must have got a grandfather's clock at least from the person who had the hardihood to give him a tract.

THE SPURIOUS MUSE.

When, long ago, the dwellers on the high Olympian Mount dominated the world, and the inspiring goddesses of song were born to Zeus and Mnemosyne, so beautiful and enchanting were they that from the plains below others were found to imitate them, to chant in unmelodious voices the praise of sun and moon, of earth and heaven; and the worst of it is that these spurious Muses proved to be as immortal as their shining exemplars, and far more presumptuous. Thus, just as Euterpe still weeps over the misdeeds of her base and unscrupulous sister as exhibited in the poor, lifeless strains of the modern "music" hall, so must Calliope and Erato oft-times sob in united lamentations by reason of the things that are done in their sacred names; and it is no wonder that they take their flight back to a lovelier, more congenial land despite the most ardent wooing, the most persistent invocations.

Few things are more pathetic, confining our view for the moment to the world of literary matters, than the attempt of the utterly prosaic soul to express itself in poetry; the blind man walking a crowded street pursues a straighter course; and we are bound to

say that the pathos is very frequently due to the fact that the would-be poet has evidently not taken the slightest trouble to ascertain what poetry is. Any lyric, for him, is a "sonnet"; any assonance, however remote, is rhyme; any column of rhymeless lines of about the same length makes "blank verse"; any number of syllables in a line will do. It has never occurred to him to look up the word "sonnet" in a dictionary, or to examine any well-known poem in the endeavor to find out the hidden rules that went to its construction. His themes, too, are limited by no sense of timidity or reverence; he sings in broken accents of the lark, of immortal love, of war and death and a fire in the next street with the utmost impartiality, unconscious of the illustrious dead, or of any impotence in his pen. He possesses in a remarkable degree the courage of his convictions; a dozen times a week we read his effusions, a dozen times a week we post them back to him or carefully deposit them in a very large drawer especially reserved for stampless efforts. But often, in truth, they reach the dignity of print. Only a few days ago we came across a volume of one hundred and

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.

It would be easy to comment waggishly on this; but what is the state of mind of a man who can produce over a hundred such stanzas, many of them far worse than this, imagining that they are poetry of the most notable description? What has he read, that he should come to this, and what vague phantasmagoria of unapprehended beauty floats before his eyes? Why should he, and thousands like him, rush to the pen immediately the need for expression overcomes them; why strive to write a poem rather than to paint a picture or to compose a symphony? The fact is that the materials for the written word are to hand at almost any moment, and the average unlearned man-clever fellow though he may be in other than literary matters-somehow holds the opinion that although the artist and the musician have to pass through long and severe periods of training before their works are of a worthy quality, anyone who can hold a pen and concoct a decent letter is fully equipped for Parnassus by the road of poesy. Bid him devote a spare fortnight to the composition of a chant royal or a sestina; bid him pack his too bulky muse into some definite form, where she may at least be a shapely dummy, whether she have the breath of life or not, and he would gaze at you in astonishment.

Explain to him that it will be better for him (and incidentally for other people) to tear up everything he writes for the space of a couple of years or so, and he would smile scornfully, imagining possibly that you were envious of his achievement. He deflowers the lyric, mauls the sonnet, with a light heart, never having known their secret or perceived their beauty.

Hardly ever does the "poet" who has thus been taken captive by the Spurious Muse reform, or rather escape; and here we must explain that no reference is made in this article to the glorious company of minor poets, praiseworthy students and workers many of them, whose efforts often reach the appeal of print in various journals and magazines. It is the hopelessly inglorious ones, ever scribbling vainly and illiterately, without form and void, whom we have in mind just now; those who can write such fearsome lines, for instance, as these:

Bacchus is the God of Wine,
Antony much wine doth love:
Mars the God of War above,
Thinketh Antony a soldier fine;
Minerva for Antony gives no sign.
Venus with Cupid doth compact
That Antony see Helen that had Troy
sacked.

These seven lines constitute the "oc-
tave" of something which is entitled a
"Sonnet," and which, to keep up the
originality, has seven lines also in the
"sestet." Here is a man who has evi-
dently read one of the world's great
stories, who has some slight acquaint-
ance with mythology, and yet produces
an effect which is simply terrible.
Again, let us look at the closing stanza
of a "lyric" in praise of books:-
Such sweet companionship I'll find
In books for company,
While loneliness within my heart
They'll not allow to be;
Unless they bring a longing for
The joys of which they tell,

And then life's cup may not seem filled.

Which does not seem so well.

There is no doubt at all as to the genuine feeling here; the tragedy only happened when the author came within reach of pen and ink. The measure is the ordinary "common metre" of the hymn-books-the measure of "While shepherds watched their flocks by night," of the immortal "St. Agnes' Eve":

Deep on the convent-roof the snows

Are sparkling to the moon:
My breath to heaven like vapor goes:'
May my soul follow soon.
Make thou my spirit pure and clear
As are the frosty skies,

Or this first snowdrop of the year
That in my bosom lies.

Yet what leagues of thought, what uncrossed oceans, separate the two!

Much is accounted for, perhaps, by the fact that no critics are at hand to warn the immature rhymster of the error of his ways. Most of his friends have stood round him in open-mouthed astonishment while he reads or exhibits his latest production, staggered at such evidence of genius in unexpected quarters; and when they have recovered their breath, have extolled him to the The Academy.

uttermost extent of a limited vocabulary until he hears the wavelets of the sea of fame already lapping round his feet. They have gurgled, "It's lovely!" -which is not true; they have said, "It's simply wonderful how you can do it!"-which is strictly true, though not in the sense in which the words are spoken. But in no way are such expressions of opinion judgments or criticisms of the remotest value. Nor does the broken-winged flutterer gain any knowledge when, as frequently happens (alas, how well we know it!), he submits his efforts to the chilly editorial glance; for editors have no time to criticize rejected manuscripts. Thus he goes on writing, his friends go on admiring, and occasionally the "poems" are printed-at his own expense.

There is no remedy for this; for human nature, strongly moved, is bound to express itself somehow. The blame must be laid upon those exquisite goddesses of song whose beauty first tempted others to don the mask and essay the same glorious deeds. But if, reproaching the immortal Spurious Muse for her hapless, prosaic ways, we discover in her some faint glimmer of the true poetic flame, it is matter for a notable thanksgiving.

Wilfrid L. Randell.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS.

"Much Ado About Nothing," edited by Professor William W. Lawrence of Columbia University and "The Tragedy of King Lear," edited by Dr. Virginia C. Gildersleeve, Dean of Barnard College, are the latest additions to the pretty Tudor Shakespeare. (The Macmillan Co.) Each is furnished with an Introduction, notes, glossary and a list of textual variants. The volumes in this charming edition have followed each other so rapidly that the series is

now nearly one half advanced toward completion.

When an insignificant-appearing but deadly German swordsman is gratuitously insulted in the year 1643 by a young Englishman, and the young Englishman's little sister hotheadedly starts off, in a suit of her fiancé's clothes, to dissuade the German from killing her brother, you have a situation that promises well for an adven

turesome and romantic novel. What further develops in the course of the story of "The Fighting Blade," by Benlah Marie Dix, is told with a spirit and dramatic control that hold the reader completely. One finds, moreover, not only the charm of adventure but firm character drawing and a vivid realism characteristic of the author's work. The book is in many respects a grimly accurate transcript of life in seventeenth century England, but it is perhaps by contrast the more joyous a tale for that. Henry Holt & Co.

In "Alexander's Bridge," her first novel, Willa S. Cather has given the world an exceedingly finished piece of work, and a story which haunts the memory. Bartley Alexander was a builder of bridges and a man of power. He was one of those men who are destined to hear two distinct and separate calls in their lives, and to be forever uncertain which of two paths they should have taken. The situation is treated with subtlety, in a manner at the same time restrained and penetrating.

The descriptions of Alexander's home in Boston and the London of his visits remind one of fine engravings and possess a charming atmosphere. It is unusual to find a book with so vital and intense a theme, handled with such refinement and distinction. Struggle and tragedy are always near the surface, but there is no hint of sordidness, and the pathos is never unrestrained. The story does not startle the reader into new lanes of thought, but awakens him gradually to the consciousness of a new possession. Houghton Mifflin Company.

Charles Major has written another historical novel, "The Touchstone of Fortune," full of the same romantic swing and vigor which characterized his earlier work. The time of the story is the reign of Charles II., and most of the scenes are at Whitehall

Court. Frances Jennings is the beautiful young heroine, in love with an untitled gentleman of depleted fortune, who, for her sake, reforms his way of living, and becomes an active enemy of Charles. She comes to Whitehall as Maid of Honor, in order to make a wealthy marriage, and save the fortunes of her family. How she resists the corruptions of the court life, is a party to the sale of Dunkirk by King Charles, and succeeds in marrying the man of her choice, is related in the person of her cousin, Baron Clyde. latter gentleman also withstands most of the contamination of court circles, and marries below his station, wholly for love. Were it not for the liveliness of style, and a certain charm of character drawing, the book would lack interest, for the loose moral standards of the time make a setting which is far from attractive. Macmillan Co.

The

After many years upon the lecture platform Garrett P. Serviss has given to the world his experience as an aid to beginners in that or kindred professions. He calls his book "Eloquence" and points out rational, clever, and suggestive methods for securing the attention of listeners. With the "feel"

of the platform habitue for his audience he breaks up his philosophy and the even flow of his argument with illustrations, attempting to show how to do the trick by showing the trick at work. His selections are a valuable part of the book and are admirably chosen. The author prefers the older style of Webster, of Phillips, of the immortal Greeks, to the familiar and slangy speech of a modern platformspeaker; but his choice of examples is nevertheless catholic in its range. He starts with the "Instinct," which is the poet's, goes on to the "Preparation," and the "Practice," adding a chapter of the very best illustrations obtainable. Harper & Bros.

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CENTURY AND AFTER
NATIONAL REVIEW

195

207

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II. The Badger. By Miss Frances Pitt.
Ill. Fortuna Chance. Chapter XXVIII. R. I. P. By James Prior.

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IV. Poetry and the Modern Novel. By Compton Mackenzie.

ENGLISH REVIEW 220

V. At the Salon and the Royal Academy. By H. Heathcote Statham. NINETEENTH CENTURY AND AFTER 228

VI. Sanderson's Venus. By St. John Lucas. (Concluded.)

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VII. The Bewilderer.
VIII. The Shakespeare Memorial. By G. K. Chesterton.
IX. The American Political Situation:

The Real Fight in America.

The Presidential Candidates.
Party Prospects in America.

Dr. Woodrow Wilson's Task.

A PAGE OF VERSE.

X. Our Lady of Grey Days. By Rosalind Murray.
XI. The Inn of Dreams. By Olive Custance.

XII. Sheep. By W. H. Davies.

BOOKS AND AUTHORS

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