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the fundamental function and limita- pictures themselves. As a matter of tions of prose, as compared with those fact, painting must always be under of poetry. Yet one had scarcely di- obligation to, and draw its inspiration gested this timely wisdom, before, in from, literature, literature being the the self-same quarter, one was asked, greatest, fullest, and most commanding with iterated and reiterated fervor, to of the arts. The pre-Raphaelite paintfall down and worship a living in- ers freely acknowledged the influence stance of what was called supreme the poetry of Keats had exercised over mastery over prose style, glaringly in- them; and Tennyson, always instinctcompatible with the wholesome doc, ively abreast of the currents of his time, trine expounded in the preceding es- gradually wrote as pictorially as possisay. The majority of readers are pas- ble, though he had from the very outsive recipients to whatever they read in set shared in some degree with Keats print, especially if it be printed in pub). the intluence exercised by poetry over lications supposed to be influential; and painting No charge, however, could illogical fervor, if fervent enough, is fairly be made against Tennyson for quickly contagious among the suscep- being too picturesque in his poetry. tible and receptive. Hence I do not But, with writers of lower degree, and doubt that, while the sound but quietly with prose writers on an extensive written essay is already forgotten, save scale, the phenomenon of imitation was by the person who wrote it and a few plainly discernible. No longer satisothers who cordially agreed with it, fied with "proper words in the proper the fervid admiration of anything but place," they first filled their pages with a good example of style that followed patches of strong color, and ended by is gaining fresh converts every day, employing every strong epithet they and will long retain them in that con- could think of, appealing to the examdition. Obviously, no help is to be ple of Ruskin, whom they only traveslooked for from reviewers or critical tied, since Ruskin, as a rule, used color journals, when authors whose writing in his prose writings only to give natis the very reverse of lucid, and who ural expression to his thoughts or deconsider themselves free to defile the scriptions. Poets also, even genuine well of English whenever it pleases poets, betook themselves to writing them, are eulogized in language that prose of this highly colored character; would almost be excessive if applied and the critics rapidly followed suit, to Gibbon, Goldsmith or Lamb.

and gushed, as the phrase is, over the It is rarely, if ever, that eccentricity luscious result; both poet and critic in one of the arts is unaccompanied by forgetting that neither Wordsworth, a similar manifestation in the other nor Byron, nor Scott, nor Coleridge rearts, or that a confusion of the limi- quired or had recourse to so extraneous tations of each of them is not at the and foreign an auxiliary to decorate same time being exhibited. I should their prose. I remember John Addingsay the mischief began when painting, ton Symonds, a few years before his modern painting at least, took prece- death, saying that he greatly regretted dence of literature in popular taste. In having himself succumbed to the prethe hope, I suppose, of not being driven vailing foible among prose writers, out of the field altogether, and in obe- naming one well-known author whom dience to the perhaps unconscious in- he warmly commended for having unistinct of self-preservation,

several formly resisted it. writers then began to write pictorially, The picturesque mode of writing has and labored to be as picturesque as by no means passed away; and the



paint-pot still stands side by side with Whenever perversion of sound the inkstand on the writing-table of taste becomes general, a phrase is inonly too many authors. But another variably invented to justify it, and to of the arts has more recently competed render it still more popular; and the with painting for the mischievous crowd readily echo and adopt it, privilege of spoiling the prose writings humbly assuming that, since it is used of the time. Painting is less intellec- by persons supposed to have tual and more sensuous than literature, mark of superiority, it embodies a leand accordingly was welcomed as an gitimate thought. Hence the catch ally by an age too indolent or too busy phrases “word-painting" and “proseto be intellectual, but not too lazy or poetry" that have been current of late too much occupied to be sensuous. years, and that have done so much to Music is yet more sensuous and emo

lead the conclusions of the average tional than painting; and the two have reader astray. It is not the business operated jointly in vitiating the prose of words to paint, any more than it is writing of—what a word!—our "styl- the office of paint to speak, or to write. ists." Over the writing-tables of "Word-painting" is an expression insuch authors should be prominently vented to excuse, intended to extol, a displayed the words of Vauvenargues: thoroughly bad style of writing, and

would have shocked Greek or Roman Pour savoir si une pensée est nou

prose-writers, have excited the astonvelle, il n'y a qu'à l'exprimer bien simplement.

ishment of Thucydides, amazed Livy (In order to know if a thought is

or Seneca, and moved Tacitus to disnew, one has only to express it quite dain. It would have been repudiated simply.)

by Addison, satirized by Steele, and

dismissed in an epigram by Gibbon. It What is this but to say the same

is nothing more than the name for thing, and to propound the same stand

bastard writing and a mongrel style. ard concerning good style in writing,

"Prose-poetry" has been equally curas Swift, in the words already cited

rent in the literary and critical jargon from him.

of the time. How can there possibly To these quotations may perhaps be

be such a thing as prose-poetry? It is usefully added here what Nietzsche

just as impossible as white-black or says in one of his intermittent mo

left-right. There can be poetic prose, ments of lucidity:

aud there can be prosaic verse; but

that is totally different matter. The misfortune of lucid writers is that people think them superficial, and

Yet, partly from a desire to seem to be

and consequently take no trouble in read- original

say something new, ing them; while the chance for obscure though it has long ceased to seem the writers is that the reader has to labor one or to be the other, people, seeing hard in order to understand them, and

in the elegant phraseology of the day, credits them with contributing the

that it “caught on,” adopted it; and pleasure he derives from his own dili

many of them apparently imagine that, gence.

in using it, they are saying something A reader of to-day must have a re- original, though what was spurious stricted field of book-perusal, who coinage at first, has long since lost the would have any difficulty in naming external face-polish that coins, whether some prominent and much belauded spurious or sound, commonly wear authors, whom the above "cap" would when they are first issued from the fit exactly.

mint. The amount of bad prose that


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has been written, and admired, during of dead authors the excellence of the last few years, under the patron- whose prose style has never been conage of the phrases “prose-poetry" and tested; such as Addison, Steele, Sterne, "prose-poems," is enormous. But their Smollett, Gibbon, Leigh Hunt, de number is no justification of them; Quincey, Newman, Ruskin (with certhough no doubt it is true that what a tain reservations), Matthew Arnold; all great Latin classic says, “Quod multis of whom managed to express their peccatur inultum est"_“What is done thoughts without posturing and attiby everybody escapes reprehension," tudinizing, but in the "simple and sinand has hardened them in their mud- cere" manner which even the sublime dying of the well of English undefiled. Milton affirms must pervade all good Into the well out of which we have all writing, whether poetry or prose. That drunk they unremorsefully cast mud Shakespeare was of the same opinion and rubbish snatched up from the road- is obvious to any one who understands side.

the directions of Hamlet to the playOne wonders sometimes whether the ers; for the same law holds good even perpetrators of these offences against more strongly in writing than in actgood writing and good sense have ever ing. Hamlet tells the players of a read, even heard of Lessing's speech he had once heard that was Laocoon, and wishes they could be "excellent," adding “one said there was compelled to read it from the first word ‘no sallet' in it to make it savory, nor to the last. In it they would learn no matter in the phrase that might inthat each of the arts has its limitations dite the author of affectation,” but “an and its special function; that it is not honest method, as wholesome as sweet, the function of Literature to paint, nor and by very much more handsome than of Painting to write; and that Archi- fine." When Wordsworth, Scott, tecture, Sculpture and Music are sub- Byron, or Shelley, wrote prose, they ject to the same law. All these Arts gave their readers no "word-painting," can co-operate and assist each other, and no “prose-poetry,” but what it probut only by each of them preserving fessed to be, good, honest, straightforits individuality and maintaining its ward prose, forcible, and full of matdignity.

ter, but lucid and unaffected. Let all It would not be either fair or accu- those who, scornful of passing plaudits, rate to abstain from adding that there write either verse or prose, do likewise, are living writers both of poetry and though they will assuredly not be prose against whom the charge of defil- hailed in leading articles as "the greating the English language and outrag- est living masters of English proseing English style could not in the style." Such a phrase, when applied smallest degree be urged. But one to authors who, whether men of genius never hears them cited as supreme or not, habitually write obscurely and masters of English prose or verse. with deliberate eccentricity, is an outThat distinction, such as it is, is as- rage on the well of English undetiled. signed to writers who “o'erdo Terma- The decay of familiarity with Greek gant," "out-Herod Herod," and “tear and Latin has probably bad much to a passion to tatters." It would be in- do with the deterioration of style in vidious to name good writers still with many English authors of to-day; and us, and equally so to name living ones the emancipation of the individual who are the most conspicuous offend- from the trammels of authority, advaners against really good writing. One tageous, perhaps, in some respects, must therefore appeal to the long line alike for the individual and society,

which set in with the French Revolution, has, likewise, largely ministered to the mischief. Already, even in George Sand's time, it was growing in French letters, since we find her saying, "Soyez correct; c'est plus rare que d'être ercentrique. Plaire par le mauvais gout est devenu plus commun que de recevoir la croix d'honneur." Yet the sense of form, so lamentably absent from the great qualities of our own race,

is far froin extinct in France, which makes one wish that English writers, practically ignorant of the dead languages, could be compelled to read nothing but French prose for a certain number of years. Then, perhaps, our eccentric tumblers and acrobats in writing would, as Shakespeare says, "learu that honorable stop), not to outsport discretion."

One of the greatest prose writers of antiquity has used the phrase, in describing a good style, Clarescit urendo --that is to say, the greater writers brighten as they burn. The so-called masters of style to-day are distressingly, and avowedly, fuliginous.

One can hardly do better than close one's remarks with examples of good prose style, so that one's meaning may be made yet more clear. One of the marks of a good style is the ease with ' which it lends itself to translation into another tongue. Many of my readers will be familiar with the final passage of the Life of Agricola, his father-inlaw, by Tacitus, in the original. But to many it will be inaccessible in the Latin tongue. This is how it surrenders itself to our own language:

fleeting breath of praise would we do thee honor, but with life-long admiration, and the effort, if strength be given us, to emulate thee. Thus shall each man that is of thy kin do thee truest service and prove his piety. To thy widow and thy daughter I would say this: Keep sacred the memory of the husband and the father by pondering all that he said or did, each of you in your heart; and let the lineaments and the expression of his character rather than of his person be enshrined there. Not that I would say aught against the portraits that are fashioned of marble or of bronze; but these material things are as much subject to the law of decay and death as the features they represent; the soul's image is imperishable, and that you may embody and express not in gross matter, by the craftsman's hand, but in the spiritual nature of your inmost self. All of Agricola that we loved, all that we admired, abides and will abide in the hearts of men, in the endless course of time, in the pages of fame. Many a hero of old has gone down into oblivion like the common herd: the story of Agricola has been transmitted to those who come after, and he shall live.


The same test may be applied to the translation by Jowett of the funeral Oration delivered by Pericles over the Athenians who fell in a great and glo. rious war. of original examples in our tongue, Newman offers innumerable instances, whether in his inquiry, What is Literature? or in others of his faultless works. The essay of Addi

on Westminster Abbey may always be read with pleasure and advantage. To turn to such is to find refreshment for the mind and solace for good taste, and serves to protect a discriminating reader against the eccentricities and self-conscious attitudinizing of too many living writers and their amazing eulogists, who surely must know that the "eccentrics" in lit. erature have never been assigned a lasting place in it, except as eccentrics and curiosities. Eccentricity, which is

If there be any habitation for the spirits of just men, if, as the philosophers aver, great souls perish not along with the bodily life, mayst thou rest in peace, and recall us, who were dear to thee, away from weak regrets and womanish tears back to the thought of thy virtues, which are no subject for sorrow or for sighing! Not with the

a form of spurious originality, is so easy. But, as Horace said long ago, "Difficile est proprie communia dicere,“

The National Review.

which is true of the common and the uncommon alike.




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By Hugh CLIFFORD, C.M.G. 1.

The swimmers answered the challenge “Dive? I should think so!" said his with discordant chorus, and began to host to Jack Norris. "You just watch splash up against the current, with the little beggar dive!"

straining arms and legs, in the direcIt was early morning, and the two tion of the man who had uttered it. men were stripping for a swim on The latter waited until his pursuers board one of the big house-boats which had nearly surrounded him, were allie eternally at their moorings on the most upon him, and then dived neatly, right bank of the river near Thames leaving barely so much as a ripple Ditton. The place was littered with behind him. Two three men sweaters, towels, flannels, boat-cush- went down headlong in pursuit, to ions, books, newspapers, pipes, and the reappear in minute or

bafvaried accumulations of rubbish such fled and panting. A moment later, as only a house-boat full of bachelors first one and then another were can collect when it lacks even the fem- drawn under, with gurgles and splutinine influence of a charwoman. With- terings of protest, by an invisible hand out, seen through the wide oblong win- that had gripped them by the heels. dows, the tawny waters ran cool and With renewed splutterings each in inviting under the glad sunshine of a turn came to the surface, laughing and bright summer morning. From a shouting, breathing forth threats of inspring-board rigged in the bow's men stant retribution. Dashing the water from time to time took running head- from their eyes, they looked around, ers: in the middle of the narrow fair- vainly seeking for some sign of their way five or six heads were bobbing, antagonist's whereabouts, calling upon while arms and legs in number to cor- him by name the while with humorous respond splashed gallantly. The mock-wrath. cheery clamor of the bathers carried "Sally!" they cried. "Sally, you far over the water.

young ruffian! Sally! Sally! Sally, Presently another head broke

you villain!

We'll pay you out propthrough the surface of the river some erly when we catch you!" twenty yards up-stream,-a head to Again the head, with its close coverwhich the wet hair clung sleek and ing of straight limp hair, came to the black as the fur of an otter,—and from surface, far down river this time, and it came a cry of defiance, the tone of well out of the reach of pursuers. which was somehow strangely familiar Again that queer challenging cry came as it smote upon Jack Norris's ears. from it, and set Norris tingling with

* Hugh Clifford's striking story “Saleh," incompleteness. “Saleh" will follow. Less, recently published in Blackwood's Magazine, perhaps, as fiction than as a study by one who is a sequel to“Sally: A Study," which appeared has had the best opportunities for observing, in the same magazine in 1903-4. The two are "Sally" and "Saleh are dramatic representaso closely connected that it has seemed best tions of the effect of western civilization upon to reprint the first, which perplexed many Oriental character.- EDITOR OF THE LIVING readers, when first published, by its apparent Age.


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