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the Arabic-speaking peoples of the Empire, which, by reason of the very distinct geographical grouping of these peoples, could be organized on the federal system, so as to spare the susceptibilities of Egypt, who, besides autonomy, possess a line of hereditary sovereigns of her own—the dynasty ot Osman, still invested with the Khalifate to remain the supreme and binding head of both portions. No insuperable difficulties lie ahead of Turkey in this direction either.
Thus it will be seen that, so far as internal action is concerned, liberal
Nineteenth Century and After.
(To be continued.)
Turkey need not view the future with diffidence.
Some trouble there will probably be, at first, in Albania and Kurdistan, and later on the even course of the State may be considerably disturbed by Macedonian and Arabian intrigue. But, unles one or more of the Great Powers of Europe intervene to favor the separatist tendencies of some elements of the Empire, the latter will easily survive any commotion that may arise in its midst.
Alfred de Bilinskl.
THE WELL OF ENGLlSH DEFILED.
It was rumored, a short time ago, that a Society was in process of formation for maintaining the purity of the English language, and the dignity of English style; and, in due course, it was understood that the names of an imposing array of writers supporting -the aims of the Society had been printed, though not published. But, since then, nothing more has been heard of the praiseworthy intention, and it can only be inferred that its promoters were baulked in their project by being offered the co-operation of writers, notorious enough in publishers' lists and the catalogues of circulating libraries, but the very offenders against the purity of language and lucidity of style for the upholding of which the Society had been conceived. The times proved to be out of joint for such an enterprise; and the Society, l conclude, lacked the moral courage to employ the means indispensable to its end. lt is difficult to tell a popular and self-satisfied author whom you are continually meeting at dinner, at luncheon, or at the club, that he writes abominably.
That the evil against which the protest was to be directed does exist, will scarcely be denied by any one who accepts the dictum of Swift that "Proper words in their proper place is the definition of style." Words inappropriate or in the wrong place, though it would be hardly possible for such words to be in the right one, are much in favor just now, alike with readers, reviewers and critics. For this condition of things is any remedy possible? No direct remedy, as far as one can see. Spoken or written protest, made by no matter what number of serious authors, would be absolutely idle. The offenders are too well satisfied with themselves, and with the result of their labors, to be affected by the frowns of stately authority or appeals to tradition; and, while the bulk of readers would scarcely glance at the protest, critics and reviewers, for the most part, would make merry over it, as the hrutem fulincn of a medley of classical prigs. Quite recently, one read in a well-known periodical, supposed to be devoted to the interests of Literature, a strikingly sound paper on the fundamental function and limitations of prose, as compared with those of poetry. Yet one had scarcely digested this timely wisdom, before, in the self-same quarter, one was asked, with iterated and reiterated fervor, to fall down and worship a living instance of what was called supreme mastery over prose style, glaringly incompatible with the wholesome doctrine expounded in the preceding essay. The majority of readers are passive recipients to whatever they read in print, especially if it be printed in publications supposed to be influential; and illogical fervor, if fervent enough, is quickly contagious among the susceptible and receptive. Hence i do not doubt that, while the sound but quietly written essay is already forgotten, save by the person who wrote it and a few others who cordially agreed with it, the fervid admiration of anything but a good example of style that followed is gaining fresh converts every day, and will long retain them in that condition. Obviously, no help is to be looked for from reviewers or critical journals, when authors whose writing is the very reverse of lucid, and who consider themselves free to defile the well of English whenever it pleases them, are eulogized in language that would almost be excessive if applied to Gibbon, Goldsmith or Lamb.
it is rarely, if ever, that eccentricity in one of the arts is unaccompanied by a similar manifestation in the other arts, or that a confusion of the limitations of each of them is not at the same time being exhibited. l should say the mischief began when painting, modern painting at least, took precedence of literature in popular taste. ln the hope, l suppose, of not being driven out of the field altogether, and in obedience to the perhaps unconscious instinct of self-preservation, several writers then began to write pictorially, and labored to be as picturesque as
pictures themselves. As a matter of fact, painting must always be under obligation to, and draw its inspiration from, literature, literature being the greatest, fullest, and most commanding of the arts. The pre-Raphaelite painters freely acknowledged the influence the poetry of Keats had exercised over them; and Tennyson, always instinctively abreast of the currents of his time, gradually wrote as pictorially as possible, though he had from the very outset shared in some degree with Keats the influence exercised by poetry over painting. No charge, however, could fairly be made against Tennyson for being too picturesque in his poetry. But, with writers of lower degree, and with prose writers on an extensive scale, the phenomenon of imitation was plainly discernible. No longer satisfied with "proper words in the proper place," they first filled their pages with patches of strong color, and ended by employing every strong epithet they could think of, appealing to the example of Ruskin, whom they only travestied, since Ruskin, as a rule, used color in his prose writings only to give natural expression to his thoughts or descriptions. Poets also, even genuine poets, betook themselves to writing prose of this highly colored character; aud the critics rapidly followed suit, and gushed, as the phrase is, over the luscious result; both poet and critic forgetting that neither Wordsworth, nor Byron, nor Scott, nor Coleridge required or had recourse to so extraneous and foreign an auxiliary to decorate their prose. l remember John Addington Symonds, a few years before his death, saying that he greatly regretted having himself succumbed to the prevailing foible among prose writers, naming one well-known author whom he warmly commended for having uniformly resisted it.
The picturesque mode of writing has by no means passed away; and Ihe paint-pot still stands side by side with the inkstand on the writing-table of only too many authors. But another of the arts has more recently competed with painting for the mischievous privilege of spoiling the prose writings of tftie time. Painting is less intellectual and more sensuous than literature, and accordingly was welcomed as an ally by an age too indolent or too busy to be intellectual, but not too lazy or too much occupied to be sensuous. Music is yet more sensuous and emotional than painting; and the two have operated jointly in vitiating the prose writing of—what a word!—our "stylists." Over the writing-tables of such authors should be prominently displayed the words of Vauvenargues:
Pour savoir si une pensee est nouvelle, il n'y a qu'3. l'exprimer bien simplement.
(In order to know if a thought is new, one has only to express it quite simply.)
What is this but to say the same thing, and to propound the same standard concerning good style in writing, as Swift, in the words already cited from him.
To these quotations may perhaps be usefully added here what Nietzsche says in one of his intermittent moments of lucidity:
The misfortune of lucid writers is that people think them superficial, and consequently take no trouble in reading them; while the chance for obscure writers is that the reader has to labor hard in order to understand them, and credits them with contributing the pleasure he derives from his own diligence.
A reader of to-day must have a restricted field of book-perusal, who would have any difficulty in naming some prominent and much belauded authors, whom the above "cap" would fit exactly.
Whenever a perversion of sound taste becomes general, a phrase is invariably invented to justify it, and to render it still more popular; and the crowd readily ecttio and adopt it, humbly assuming that, since it is used by persons supposed to have some mark of superiority, it embodies a legitimate thought. Hence the catch phrases "word-painting" and "prosepoetry" that have been current of late years, and that have done so much to lead the conclusions of the average reader astray. it is not the business of words to paint, any more than it is the office of paint to speak, or to write. "Word-painting" is an expression invented to excuse, intended to extol, a thoroughly bad style of writing, and would have shocked Greek or Roniun prose-writers, have excited the astonishment of Thucydides, amazed Livy or Seneca, and moved Tacitus to disdain. it would have been repudiated by Addison, satirized by Steele, and dismissed in an epigram by Gibbon. it is nothing more than the name for bastard writing and a mongrel style. "Prose-poetry" has been equally current in the literary and critical jargon of the time. How can there possibly be such a thing as prose-poetry? It is just as impossible as white-black or left-right. There can be poetic prose, and there can be prosaic verse; but that is a totally different matter. Yet, partly from a desire to seem to be original and say something new, though it has long ceased to seem the one or to be the other, people, seeing in the elegant phraseology of the day, that it "caught on," adopted it; and many of them apparently imagine that, in using it, they are saying something original, though what was spurious coinage at first, has long since lost the external face-polish that coins, whether spurious or sound, commonly wear when they are first issued from the mint. The amount of bad prose that has been written, and admired, during the last few years, under the patronage of the phrases ''prose-poetry" and "prose-poems," is enormous. But their number is no justification of them; though no doubt it is true that what a great Latin classic says, "Quod multia peccatur inultum est"—"What is done by everybody escapes reprehension," and has hardened them in their muddying of the well of English undefined. lnto the well out of which we have all drunk they unremorsefully cast mud and rubbish snatched up from the roadside.
One wonders sometimes whether the perpetrators of these offences against good writing and good sense have ever read, or even heard of Lessing's Laocoim, and wishes they could be compelled to read it from the first word to the last. ln it they would learn that each of the arts has its limitations and its special function; that it is not the function of Literature to paint, nor of Painting to write; and that Architecture, Sculpture and Music are subject to the same law. All these Arts can co-operate and assist each other, but only by each of them preserving its individuality and maintaining its dignity.
lt would not be either fair or accurate to abstain from adding that there are living writers both of poetry and prose against whom the charge of defiling the English language and outraging English style could not in the smallest degree be urged. But one never hears them cited as supremo masters of English prose or verse. That distinction, such as it is, is assigned to writers who "o'erdo Termagant," "out-Herod Herod," and "tear a passion to tatters." lt would be invidious to name good writers still with us, and equally so to name living ones who are the most conspicuous offenders against really good writing. One must therefore appeal to the long line
of dead authors the excellence of .whose prose style has never been contested; such as Addison, Steele, Sterne. Smollett, Gibbon, Leigh Hunt, de Quincey, Newman, Ruskin (with certain reservations), Matthew Arnold; all of whom managed to express their thoughts without posturing and attitudinizing, but in the "simple and sincere" manner which even the sublime Milton affirms must pervade all good writing, whether poetry or prose. That Shakespeare was of the same opinion is obvious to any one who understands the directions of Hamlet to the players; for the same law holds good even more strongly in writing than in acting. Hamlet tells the players of a speech he had once heard that was "excellent," adding "one said there was 'no sallet ' in it to make it savory, nor no matter in the phrase that might indite the author of affectation," but "an honest method, as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine." When Wordsworth, Scott, Byron, or Shelley, wrote prose, they gave their readers no "word-painting," and no "prose-poetry," but what it professed to be, good, honest, straightforward prose, forcible, and full of matter, but lucid and unaffected. Let all those who, scornful of passing plaudits, write either verse or prose, do likewise, though they will assuredly not be hailed in leading articles as "the greatest living masters of English prosestyle." Such a phrase, when applied to authors who, whether men of genins or not, habitually write obscurely and with deliberate eccentricity, is an outrage on the well of English undefiled. The decay of familiarity with Greek and Latin has probably had much to do with the deterioration of style in many English authors of to-day; and the emancipation of the individual from the trammels of authority, advantageous, perhaps, in some respects, 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; e'est plus rare que d'etre eccentrique. Plaire par le manvais gout est devenu plus commun quo de recevoir la croix d'hounenr." Yet the sense of form, so lamentably absent from the great qualities of our own race, is far from 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, "learn that honorable stop, not to outsport discretion."
One of the greatest prose writers of antiquity has used the phrase, in describing a good style, Clarewit 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 Ag-ricola, 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:
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
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 glorious 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 Addison 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 literature have never been assigned a lasting place in it, except as eccentrics and curiosities. Eccentricity, which is