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personality, but their individuality also, a few moments would decide our fate. under the mysterious veil of the plural We were totally alone; we shouted, but number, was cunningly devised for the no one answered. The projecting ledge express purpose of effecting that object. on which we had contrived to support one By the use of this method the reader is of our feet was now slowly giving way; impressed with a notion that the vaticina- we looked down; a sheer precipice of a tions and denunciations laid before him thousand yards yawned beneath us; our proceed from some infallible oracle, some hat fell off; our head grew dizzy; our fountain of unerring wisdom, or, at the right hand was rapidly becoming belowest, from some body of sages assem- numbed . . ." Pray who can care for a bled in solemn conclave to settle the affairs Mr. We in such a situation? The pasof mankind; certainly not from anything sage is perused with frigid indifference, like a fellow-mortal, sitting, perhaps, in as not appealing to any human sympathy no palatial lodging, and biting his pen in with a fellow-creature; or, if any feeling anxious search for the materials of an arti- is evoked, it is one perhaps rather resemcle; dealing, indeed, with the fate of em- bling satisfaction; a vague notion that pires and the prospects of the human race, somehow or other there will shortly be .but thinking chiefly of finishing his day's one newspaper-editor the less in the or night's work, and getting to bed. It world. is useless to say anything to, or about, those writers, editors, and proprietors (if any such there be) who maintain this artifice for the purpose of keeping up a popular delusion; but there are many compositions, especially essays in periodical publications, in which by custom and without any unworthy motive, this form of expression is deemed to be necessary; and the spirit of unreasoning imitation leads some writers of the second class to adopt it, where even this, customary necessity does not exist. It is, however, a form which, though not new, has never obtained with the best writers; it is neither elegant nor convenient; and there is really no sufficient reason why it should not be abandoned by all those who now use it only in obedience to a rule established nobody knows how, certainly valued by none, and distasteful to many. Its effects are, indeed, more injurious than is commonly suspected; for, on the one hand, it tempts a man to indulge in Nos-ism where modesty and a sense of propriety would have made him shrink from undisguised egotism; and, on the other hand, its spoils all the grace and charm of those passages where the writer's own peculiar thoughts, actions, or experience can be brought forward. Many a confident assertion, or dogmatic impertinence, now uttered under the mask of plurality, would have been modified, had the writer been distinctly reminded of his individual responsibility by a more natural form of speech; while the interest of many a narrative of personal adventure, or record of personal recollections, has been destroyed by this pompous unsubstantiality: "We felt that

In considering the perils to which a language is exposed, the constant influence of corruption from colonial sources must not be overlooked. Our language circulates much as our blood does. It brings back with it to the heart all sorts of impurities from the extremities to which it has penetrated, and unfortunately nature has not provided any lungs for the oxygenation of speech. It is scarcely necessary to point out whence these impurities arise-want of social refinement, the absence of literary men of a high class, of universities, of a cultivated bar or pulpit, and on the other hand the presence (in some cases) of an aboriginal population speaking a different tongue, are sufficient to account for them; but it is important to observe that the conditions favorable to their adoption in the mother country are greatly on the increase. It would take a long time for a strange word or phrase to get naturalized here by word of mouth alone; but vast quantities of printed matter now pour in daily from the very outskirts of civilization; publishing travellers take pleasure in reproducing with minute accuracy all the uncouth and barbarous jargon that they hear uttered; and when printing once intervenes, there is no saying where an expression may be carried, or what favorable accidents may enable it to strike root and flourish. There seems at the same time to be an unhealthy passion for adoption on the part of the public. Two or three years ago nobody would have known what was meant by a Sensation Novel; yet now the term has already passed through the stage of jocular use (a stage in which other less

lucky ones will sometimes remain for whole generations), and has been adopted as the regular commercial name for a particular product of industry for which there is just now a brisk demand. These considerations should put us on our guard, and induce us to be as surly and inhospitable as possible to all those strange sounds which come back to us like an Irish echo before we have uttered them ourselves. With regard to magniloquence and misuse of words, the dean remonstrates earnestly with the gentlemen who will talk of "encountering an individual," "partaking of refreshment," "sustaining bereavement of a maternal relative," and so forth. May his exhortations produce good fruit! It is true, no doubt, that folly, conceit, and ignorance are not peculiar to any age or any country; yet in matters of literature, the present times do seem to be specially marked by the boldness with which sciolists take the lead as innovators. The study of language, as Professor Max Müller observes, is properly one of the physical sciences; but the difficulties of future philologers will be greatly increased by the intrusion into modern languages of changes and combinations which have got there by no natural process, but owing to conscious and wilful interference-chiefly, too, by those who have no business to interfere. A long list might be made of words which have been perverted from their legitimate use solely by the operation of ignorance in people who have chosen to use them without knowing what they meant. It is true that this is to a certain extent one of the necessary consequences of the spread of literary education; nevertheless, an exhortation to modesty and caution in this respect is not a little needed, especially by those who take upon themselves the responsible office of public monitors and teachers. The profound scholar (for instance) who wrote etcetera the other day in a newspaper, as an improvement upon etceteras, may be usefully reminded that his knowledge of the plural of musa has for once been too much for him. Not that professed "literary men" are the sole offenders; everybody who can read now comes forward as a reformer. Thus, some philological ironmonger having discovered that chandelier is derived from chandelle, and holding himself fully qualified by education and position to take charge of the English language,

has determined that the word is inapplicable where gas is used, and triumphantly imposes on us the new word gasalier; forgetting that he has retained half of the candle in the second syllable. Another man offers to supply the world with gas apparata. The word Octoroon (framed, we presume, in America) presents the same blunder as the gasalier; the in Quadroon belongs to the root significative of four, and Octoon would have been a more proper form, according to analogy. But enough of these; it is needless (as Dr. Johnson expresses it in the preface to "Cymbeline") "to waste criticism on unresisting imbecility, upon faults too evident for detection, too gross for aggravation."

A few words of special remonstrance might also be usefully addressed to two classes of authors-the writers of fiction and the writers of history; no satire is intended in placing them together. The gentlemen and ladies of the former class must now indulge in egotizing prefaces, giving narratives of the circumstances under which their works were composed, and the considerations which led them to conduct the fable in this manner rather than in that; or making statements with all the formal accuracy of the specification of a patent, of the precise points in which the author claims the merit of originality. This practice, like some of the former ones, is not altogether new, but it is disagreeably on the increase.* Thus, such a one will tell the reader, by way of enhancing the likelihood of his tale, that he had at first thought of making Lady Arabella marry Sir Reginald, but had afterwards determined on giving her to Walter, in order to enable him to introduce the death-scene, which he happened to have by him out of another manuscript (for which he is unable just at present to find a publisher); or that it may be interesting to know that down to last Tuesday he had absolutely not determined whether the will should prove to be a forgery or not. He will add, perhaps, that this tale is in some respects a new experiment in fiction; there being, so far as he is aware,

The example of Sir Walter Scott must not be cited in justification of these offences against good taste. His prefaces (it should be remembered) did not accompany his novels when they originally came out; they are only literary gossip addressed the books themselves. It is true that he forgot to a public whom he assumed to be familiar with the case of future generations of readers.

no previous instance of a story in which the author is giving him fact and when fica young man is represented as falling in tion? One would have thought that the love with two middle-aged ladies at once, unjustifiableness of such a practice was too and a middle-aged man with two young obvious to require demonstration; yet it is ladies at once. The same materials in sometimes justified on the plea of necessiother combinations may no doubt have ty-the necessity of making books "readbeen used by other writers, but of the able." This is the sort of necessity which special combination he claims the credit compels grocers to sand their brown sugar. of being the sole inventor. Surely it is If you cannot make your history readable strange that a man with any respect for without inserting what is baseless, you had his art should thus destroy half his chance better try some other trade. Then it is of touching the affections merely for the said that everybody understands where sake of indulging in a little trumpery the author is indulging his fancy, and where gossip about himself and his intellect: not. But that is not the case. Readers how can a writer hope to move the pas- of high literary acumen, and well acquaintsions who deliberately destroys that state ed with the subject, may, indeed, often of mind which he should foster, and takes guess that there would be no answer to the pains to remind the reader that the inci- "how do you know that ?"--but the great dents placed before him are neither the majority of readers are incapable of judg truth, nor due to the warm and easy flow ing on such questions; and surely it is a of inspiration, but are the labored product monstrous doctrine that, while we are readof cold calculation, the unloved progeny ing history, we are to be perpetually on of a brain which feels no genial sympathy our guard to separate that which we are with its own creations? intended to believe from that which is only intended for our amusement. It is obvious that, without any intention to deceive, an entirely false view of events and characters may be conveyed to the reader by the artificial light thus thrown over them.

Το pass to the historians. Errors arising from ignorance, prejudice, or stupidity are not within our present province; but the student is now liable to be misled by a practice on the part of his teachers, which regular historical criticism does not, per- A very flagrant instance of this sort of haps cannot, always deal with, and which, trickery has just been perpetrated by two unless it be classed among faults of style, very notorious offenders at the expense of has some chance of escaping due reproba- the present Duke of Manchester and of the tion altogether. We refer to the notion public. The duke, with a due regard for which authors now seem to entertain that the history of his family and the traditions it is necessary to make their works attrac- of his house, seems to have thought it detive by composing them in the style of his- sirable that the papers collected at Kimtorical novels, and introducing circumstan- bolton by successive members of the race tial details of all sorts on no better author- of Montagu should be examined, and that ity than their own imaginations. The his- such of them as are of historical interest torical romance is going out, but the ro should be prepared for publication. Fammantic history is coming in. There are ily papers of this nature are the most valmany modern historians, and those the uable materials of history, provided they most famous and popular, whose produc- are placed before the reader in a plain, intions force one to ask at every turn, "How telligible, and authentic form. The gencan you know that?" Yet surely the first tleman whose assistance and literary skill requisite in a history is that it should be the Duke of Manchester has generously true; and the writer who, for the sake of acknowledged in the introduction to these being called "picturesque," or "graphic," volumes, unfortunately took a different states one circumstance, however trivial, view of their functions. Catharine of Arwhich he has not good reason, on sufficient agon died at Kimbolton, and accordingly historical evidence, to believe to be true, "Donna Catalina of the golden hair" is shows himself incapable of understanding made to flourish in her red locks and farthe duties of his vocation. If it is once to thingales through a volume of semi-intellibe admitted that an author may represent ble gibberish, from the half Moorish city anything as having actually occurred, only of Alcalá de Henares, where she was born, because his fancy pictures to him that it to the secluded castle "eight miles from may have occurred, all confidence is de-a post town and nine miles from a railway stroyed. How is the reader to know when line," where she died. It is scarcely fair

To return to our dean: we cannot close this article better than by extracting a few lines from his general advice to his readers: "Be simple," (he says,) "be unaffected, be honest in your speaking and writing. Never use a long word where a short one will do. Call a spade a spade, not a well-known oblong instrument of manual industry. Elegance of language may not be in the power of all of us; but simplicity and straightforwardness are. Write much as you would speak; speak as you

to the late Mr. James to say that this | Of these subjects none are more natural to strange production is very inferior in point the modern mind than tales of contempoof taste and style to the worst of his once rary life. The same feelings which prompt popular romances. It is simply history us to depict ourselves in prose fiction also gone mad, and we very much regret that lead us to describe in verse incidents chosen the Duke of Manchester's excellent inten- from that daily life in which we take so tions should have been so very injudicious- strong an interest. But it is obvious that ly fulfilled. If "liveliness" is only to be these incidents of daily and hourly life may had on such terms as these, then welcome be treated in very different ways, accorddulness, welcome dryness, welcome an old ing to the bias of the mind that treats almanac, anything, provided one can be them. The poet may stand in a hundred sure that it is what it professes to be, and different relations to the characters whom that the author does not deem it any part he introduces into his tale. He may, for of his business to cook or create his facts instance, make them and their story the for the sake of being picturesque. vehicle for his own thoughts and feelings. They may come to be almost lost in their narrator, as, for example, the persons described in the Excursion are lost and swallowed up in Wordsworth. There is not much of incident in these stories of the Excursion, there is not much that can be called distinctively poetry in the treatment, but there is an unending flux of poetical philosophy, very lengthily, but sometimes powerfully, expressed. In Enoch Arden Mr. Tennyson seldom wanders away from the tale he has to tell, but he always, or at any rate in the better passages, gives his tale a poetical form. He is the poet telling a tale, whereas Wordsworth is a poet seeking in the outlines of a tale the form or excuse for his philosophical meditations. It is interesting to compare with both of them a writer of a wholly different turna poet who tells a tale as a tale and nothing more, who looks on it neither as the vehicle of philosophy nor of poetry, but who simply tries to produce fiction in metre. The merits of Crabbe are great when once we take him on the level where he himself was content to stand. He was not a philosopher, nor in any high sense a poet, but he could tell a tale, and he had a very just perception of the consequences which ought to follow on the attempt to tell a tale in verse. He knew when metre was a gain and when it was a loss to him. Perhaps, arranging incidents, he was about equal to in mere power of conceiving character and Miss Austen as a writer of fiction, and nu

think."

These last words contain the key-note of the whole theme. It is affectation which is the root of almost all offences against good language and good manners. The simple and uncouth expressions of a clown are far more nearly allied to the roots of our mother tongue than the highflown efforts of mannerists and euphemists; and people are never ridiculous as long as they are contented to remain themselves.

Saturday Review.

CRABBE'S TALES OF THE HALL.*

So long as poets only write occasional pieces, and come quickly to an end of what they have to say, it is very easy for them to manage with no other subject than their own feelings, sorrows, or fancies. But if they are to make a sustained effort, they must have a subject external to themselves, which they propose to treat in the manner that pleases them. Epic poets choose sub-merous points of resemblance between the jects great enough for epics, and idyllic two writers will present themselves to any poets choose such subjects as are suitable works. In some respects, verse, as a ve one who will compare their respective for idyls-that is, tales of human adven-hicle for narration, rises above prose, and ture or suffering where the interest is not then Crabbe is superior to Miss Austen. quite up to the higher level of the epic. In many and in more respects, prose is a better vehicle for the purposes of fictitious narrative than verse is, and in these respects

* Tales of the Hall. By the Rev. G. CRABBE. London: John Murray.

Miss Austen rises above Crabbe. Verse the world, as a whole, is not so much bad is briefer, more taking, more incisive than as silly, and life is not so much terrible as prose. It drives little epigrammatic points trivial and disappointing. Still, the gloom more directly home. It arrests the atten- is relieved by some bright spots. In the tion to conversation and incidents by the first place, there is family affection, and artificial construction of metre; but, on the especially there is the unfailing kindness other hand, characters are less drawn out, of those bound to each other by near ties mistakes, blunders, and oddities are less of blood. As to husbands and wives, shaded off, the tone of everything is much Crabbe's philosophy seems to have revealfurther from the tone of real life. It is a ed to him that, in nine cases out of ten, greater effort to keep up with verse than they are fated to get tired of each other. with prose; it is harder to understand, and That love, in the long run, discovers its it makes us exert ourselves to fill up the own mistake, was almost an axiom with blanks it leaves. Therefore, narrative in him; but he is never tired of painting the verse, as mere narrative, will never be so effusive affection of English sisters, or the popular as narrative in prose, and Miss reserved but trustworthy friendship of Austen has a hundred readers where Crabbe English brothers. Life, too, was to him has one. full of quiet fun. He saw the oddities, the queerness, the little ludicrous follies and vanities of ordinary people, and he loved to laugh at them in a shrewd gentle way. There was a comedy of errors going on all around him; and although he deplored the errors, he enjoyed the comedy. Lastly, he had a profound belief in the healing and sustaining power of religion. He had very little theological depth, but he had an abiding conviction that people who tried to be good Christians were the only happy people, and that somehow their miseries and their sufferings were always made up to them. A man who views life in such a temper views it, on the whole, aright. Crabbe's notions are sound notions. There is much crime and misery, and much fun in the world; and religion, if it can but be got of the right sort, is a pearl of great price. No one can quarrel with such a view. It may not embrace all that is to be said of rural society in modern England, but, so far as it goes, it is unassaila ble.

The Tales of the Hall were published when Crabbe was an elderly man, and were not only recognized at once as among the best and most characteristic of his productions, but as embodying in a moderate compass all his leading views of life and morals. They had been gradually worked out during many years, and were touched and retouched until they satisfied his judgment. They summed up to him and to his readers the fruits of his experience and of his feeling, and it is one of their great charms that they exhibit with so much fidelity and simplicity what their author had learnt to think of men and women in the sphere of English life with which he was acquainted. Crabbe's view of the world was not what would generally be called a poetical view. It seemed to him a place full of stupid mistakes, bungles, and errors. The men he paints are easily led away by temptation, the facile prey of deceit, full of meanness as well as of better things, silly in their religion as in their worldly conduct, and in every way a very unheroic set. His women are almost all weak, and almost all coquettes. That women say what they do not mean, and mean what they do not say, was the great truth which sixty years of observation of the female sex had taught him. No one, he thought, need expect to be happy in this world; for, if worse misfortunes do not overtake him, his own folly and the folly of his neighbors assure him a constant crop of troubles. There are some very bad women in the world, he lets us know, though he very seldom notices them; and a great many bad men, of whom village ruffians moved his deepest anger and pity, and village fanatics his deepest scorn. But

At any rate, it is a view of life which eminently suits the teller of tales. Crabbe's philosophy gave a thread on which he could easily string together the incidents of a story. And he had also a keen sense of how a story ought to be told, when to be brief and when to be lengthy, how far to be comic and how far to be pathetic, how far description can really describe, and what expressions will best convey the character of the person to whom they are attributed. He very rarely fails in the management of his machinery, and in none of his stories is there any uncertainty as to the sort of persons of whom he is speaking. He generally sets himself to work out a lesson, and although he often chooses

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