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From The National Review.

CARELESSNESS in style is not merely a literary blemish; it tends to demoralize. History tells, again and again, how a deterioration in style is a sure prognostic of national degeneracy and decay. A taste for tawdry finery, as in the declining days of the earlier and of the later Rome, is a symptom of luxury, venality, frivolity. Smart writing augurs flippancy and conceit; laxity and inexactness go with a blunted sense of honesty and honor. Just as a debased coinage speaks ill for commercial integrity, so when the mintage of speech is tampered with, when the current coins of social intercourse are clipped and defaced without scruple, there is danger to other things more important even than literary excellence.

The literature of Great Britain is liable in a peculiar degree to dangers of this kind. As in our politics and in our national life generally, so in our literature we are very apt to let things take their course; we expect them, if wrong, to right themselves; we shun interference and vexatious restrictions. We have no academic censorship, as in France, to appeal to. Use is the arbiter with us; and use is sometimes only another name for the caprice of fashion. There is, of course, a strong element of vitality in this unhindered, unconstrained development. The plant thrives all the more sturdily for not being nursed too assiduously. But there is danger, lest without the pruning-knife faults may grow rampant through impunity.



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Downright carelessness is often the root of the evil. Some time ago a story was current of an editor writing, "We remember seeing Canning, when we were a boy." More recent instances of similar awkwardness are easily found, even where they would be least expected. "The boys were served out with long canes (to beat the bounds); instead of "Long canes were served out to the boys." He was given a statue," for "A statue was given him." They were shown the way,” for “The way was shown to them." "He sustained," for "He met with," an accident. "The dinner was partook of." All these questionable phrases appear in the columns of our leading journals. Even works less ephemeral are not without fault; one of our philosophers writes, "There requires a multiplicity of illustration;" one of our recent diocesan histories speaks of "differing with him." An advertisement of wine says, "We guarantee identity to sample." A few years ago, the circular summoning members of Parliament ran thus, "Business of importance will be proceeded with." "Under the circumstances common for “in the circumstances." A periodical of high character used not long ago the extraordinary expression, "his late father."


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A similar laziness may be seen in the use of inconsistent metaphors. One is reminded of the Irish orator, who said that his opponent had "flung aside the mask and shown the cloven foot." The passage following is part of the announcement of a new periodical: "There is no newspaper in which the precise platform The influence of our periodical litera- here adopted is taken up." To say nothture increases continually; but what is ing of a "precise platform," the incongruwritten to meet a demand which recurs ity is obvious of "adopting a platform; month after month, week by week, or day while " taking it up" suggests "pulling it by day, is often written under pressure, down." In a memorial, widely circulated, and with a rapidity which is inimical to of an educational association, we are told exactitude and polish. Great masters of that "the fairness and success or otherstyle we still have undoubtedly. Surely, wise of one leading feature of the new since Jeremy Taylor, pronounced by Cole- code, must depend on, etc." A "feature ridge" almost the most eloquent of men,' may be prominent and conspicuous, pleasthere has not been a writer with a greater ing or unpleasing, beautiful or ugly; but command of our language, or more dex-it is not easy to imagine a "leading featerous in the play of words, than the ac- ture." One of the ablest writers of our complished author of " Modern Painters." day speaks of "furthering an end." To If the old definition of a good style is true, make a thing "further" off is hardly makthat it should be like a well-fitting dress, ing the way to it easier. revealing easily and gracefully what it covers, Mr. Goldwin Smith and the author of "Oceana" are, judged by that rule, irreproachable. Still it must be owned that there is some force in the remark, often made, that style is less attended to in our literature than in days past.

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This looseness of diction leads to an inexcusable license in the invention of new words. To save time and trouble, anything lying near at hand is snatched up,

Lately an able writer wrote of "the czar's resist ance of the pope's overtures."


that she could "warble a few warbs and tap the ivories."

ry), "proportionable" (for proportional),
etc., etc. An author, whose published ser-
mons are a household word for pure, idio-
matic English, condescends to "reliable."
A leading journal uses "preventative
(suggested probably by "frequentative")
for "preventive," and "declination,"
for declining an office. "Sustentation "
passes muster as a legitimate derivative
from "sustain." A periodical of high rep-
utation speaks of "minifying the evil con-
sequences," and lends its sanction to the
anomalous word "ignore." Composite
words are as lawless as derivatives. "Zo-
edone" and "antigropela," uncouth as
they are, can account for their parentage.
But what can be pleaded for mongrels like
"hedozone," "sub-way," cablegram,"


and somehow is dovetailed into its place. In truth, nothing is easier than this process, if once you can persuade yourself This laxity gives birth to very strange that any word may be forced to serve in formations for instance, "regrettable," any capacity, and that, by a slight altera-". dependable," "statutable" (for statutotion of the termination, or even without this, nouns and verbs, substantives and adjectives, may change places in a moment. But this amiable reciprocity of the parts of speech is bewildering. We seem to be going back, as if by a cyclic tendency, to a Polynesian poverty in our vocabulary. A word known as a noun ap pears suddenly transformed into a verb. Money was loaned freely," we read in a daily paper. Why not "Money was lent"? "The rebels raided the village." “Our correspondent intervieved the great man." To "prospect" means to view the prospect; to "progress "stands for to make progress.* * The geologist writes of "deposits which have been faulted out of sight." By way of compensation, verbs are made to do the work of nouns. A clever contributor to our magazines writes Trade and commerce take strange liberof the "welter of opinions;" nor are the ties with language. From not knowing newspapers slow to follow such a prece- or from not caring, many a gash is inflictdent. "A find of considerable interested, which cannot be healed easily. Sidwas made by the explorers." "Oxford ney Smith castigated the advertisements scored two wins" against the sister uni- of his day; † a long list might be made of versity. "Exhibit" is used for a thing our own eccentricities in that way. One exhibited, or for the exhibition itself. advertisement announces carpets in With equal facility verbs neuter become many makes; " another, “ incalved cows." active, if required. "I must fail them," An auctioneer brags of his "well ended that is, mark them as having failed, writes hay," or of his "well succeeded wines." an inspector of schools in his report. A critic of the harvest says, "The lower "Difficulties which we do not blink," portion (why not part?) of the ear is shortwrites a reviewer. Some one speaks of ed." To save an infinitesimal quantity of "emigrating a family," in the sense of time or of ink, words essential to the sense assisting them to emigrate; just as Rarey, are omitted altogether. A circular says, the famous horse-breaker, used to "gen- "We will despatch the goods by own tle" a refractory horse. A clever person van." A customer is quoted in praise is talented." To suit the exigencies of of, say, the "Revalenta Ambrosiana," as the moment, a verb assumes a meaning "Have tasted and like it." "I wrote diametrically opposite to its own. A news- you" does duty for "I wrote to you." paper relates how Mr. A. " offered to hire" Every kind of business devises a techni(not to "hire out") "his hay-drier to the cal jargon of its own, often quite unnecescorporation." Adjectives become sub- sarily. "I find in the dump pile" (this is stantives, and vice versa. People resident from a mining circular) "seven hundred in a place are "residenters." Hymn- tons of ore; I sampled them; my panwriters are too often guilty of a disregard nings indicated," etc. One might expect of the laws of language; almost any dog-lawyers, at any rate, to be accurate. Why grel is sometimes allowed to pass muster say "the reciting indenture," when we in a hymn, which should be the best expression of the noblest thoughts. Really, in our unbridled license we are scarcely surpassed by the young lady from Boston,

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mean "the indenture recited "?

Licuit semperque licebit

Signatum præsente notâ producere nomen.

who said that her brother "sculpted," and But Horace adds: —

Johnson, after "not used," quotes from Shakespeare, "doth progress on thy cheeks." Webster adds other instances, chiefly modern.

Sunt certi denique fines, etc.

† For instance, "Wanted a coachman to drive a pair of horses of a religious turn of mind."

For this apparent irregularity good precedent if pleaded.

ers." Wordsworth expressed the opinion | gorical and imaginative phantasy in which that "Godiva" was superior to "Beppo; the subject is shrouded, the poem is in and though we may have a shrewd suspicion that the author of "The Excursion" was scarcely qualified to be a good critic of Bernesque humor, yet it is possible that in this instance he was not far from the truth. There are many passages of remarkable beauty in "Godiva," none perhaps better than the following description | poet himself. The poem is chiefly reof Godiva's unrobing, which may bear comparison even with the corresponding passage in Lord Tennyson's poem, than which it is rather more diffuse. The youthful Etonian must at least be credited with having anticipated a poet laureate in the simile of "a summer moon half-dipt in cloud."

fact a piece of autobiography, the witch being none other than Miss Fergusson, the young lady of Scotch family who afterwards became the poet's wife, while the "genius from a fair western land,” who was subdued by the magic of the witch, is evidently meant for the young Salopian markable, from a literary point of view, for its extraordinary resemblance in some parts to Shelley's "Witch of Atlas," first published among his posthumous poems in 1824, which Moultrie had evidently studied. Shelley has himself been so often caught_tripping, however unconsciously, in the way of plagiarism, that The lady rose from prayer, with cheek o'er-reverse side of the medal, and to find it is interesting sometimes to see the


And eyes all radiant with celestial fire, The anguish'd beatings of her heart were hush'd,

So calmly heavenward did her thoughts aspire.


A moment's pause-
As, trembling, she unclasp'd her rich attire,
And, shrinking from the sunlight, shone con-

- and then she deeply

The ripe and dazzling beauties of her breast. And when her white and radiant limbs lay bare,

The fillet from her brow the dame unbound, And let the traces of her raven hair

Flow down in wavy lightness to the ground, Till half they veil'd her limbs and bosom fair, In dark and shadowy beauty floating round, As clouds, in the still firmament of June, Shade the pale splendors of the midnight


"Maimune," though considerably longer than "Godiva" and still more discursive, is scarcely less delightful. The tale is partly drawn from the story of Aladdin in the Arabian Nights;" while Maimune, the fairy who gives her name to the poem; is a kind of Mab, a spiritual patroness and benefactress of the human race, a character which seems to have been a favorite one with Moultrie, as it appears again in "The Witch of the North" and "Sir Launfal." The manner in which the freakish fancy of this benignant spirit planned and effected the union of a certain prince and princess, as in the case of Aladdin and the sultan's daughter, is told with keen yet delicate humor, and in language of real melody and beauty. "The Witch of the North," dated November, 1824, is another poem in ottava rima. In spite of the ideal treatment, and the halo of alle

another poet appropriating title, ideas, This Moultrie has done in a very marked cadences, and even words from him. manner in his "Witch of the North,” especially in the general tone of the opening stanzas, describing the birth of the lady witch," and the account of her magic dwelling. In such lines as,


The deep recesses of her inmost cell
Were garnish'd with strange treasures,
when compared with Shelley's, -
The deep recesses of her odorous dwelling
Were stored with magic treasures,

we recognize something more than the
frequent indebtedness of one poet to an-
other; while the last stanza of the poem
is almost a reproduction, or rather an in-
version, of Shelley's conclusion. Shelley
declares that his is

A tale more fit for the weird winter nights
Than for these garish summer days, when we
Scarcely believe much more than we can see;
while Moultrie says of this that

such a strain

Is fitter far for some calm summer eve,
Than for these merry winter nights, when we
Begin to dream of Christmas revelry.

A resemblance so close as this can hardly have been unconscious; yet it is noticeable that in "Maimune" Moultrie had already described a similar subject in very similar, and equally beautiful, verse, at a date prior not only to the publication, but even the writing, of Shelley's "Witch of Atlas." The last of Moultrie's Bernesque poems was "Sir Launfal," a metrical romance, written when the author was still very young, and first published in Knight's Quarterly Magazine under

the title of "La Belle Tryamour." It is originality. Among the other poems writa combination of fairy lore and Arthurian ten before 1828 there are many pleasing legend, derived partly from a Spenserian lyrics, songs, and sonnets, of which the source. As a whole it is less successful than the poems already mentioned, the narrative being loose and unequal, unduly spun out in some parts, and left unfinished at the close. Yet there are many very striking passages and not a few interest ing allusions, notably those to Shelley and his Achates, Leigh Hunt, who is twitted with descending from the friendship of "a vast though erring spirit" to that of Byron, the misanthropic peer." The following clever burlesque on the ideal philosophy of Berkeley seems to indicate that Moultrie's views were becoming more matter-of-fact and practical at the time when "Sir Launfal " was written. Oh, 'tis most soothing, when all objects seem Wrapt in a sevenfold cloud of fear and sor


To know they're nothing but a hideous dream,
From which no doubt we shall awake to-


To sober certainty of bliss supreme.

Hence consolation from all ills I borrow
By disbelieving with my whole ability
All things that wear a shade of probability.

I don't believe in matter- -nor in spirit;
I don't believe that I exist, not I,

Nor you, sir, neither—if you choose to swear

I tell you, very fairly, that you lie;
If you think fit to thresh me, I can bear it,
Knowing the thumps in fact are all my eye,
And that all sorts of fractures, hurts, and

Are as unreal-as the patient chooses.

The early reputation of "the pathetic Moultrie "rested chiefly on "My Brother's Grave," a short poem somewhat in the style of Byron's "Prisoner of Chillon," first published in the College Magazine and then in the first number of the Eto nian. It appeared again in the collected editions of Moultrie's works, and having been often reprinted in anthologies and books of extracts has probably been read more widely than any of his other writings. That so beautiful and genuine a poem should have been written by a boy at Eton, strikes one as scarcely less than amazing; and it is doubtful if the annals of English literature could produce any stranger instance of precocious genius. But none of Moultrie's other pieces on grave and pathetic subjects ever quite reached this high standard : certainly "The Hall of My Fathers," the companion piece in the Etonian and written in a similar style, is far inferior in power and

best, and the best-known, lines are those headed "Forget Thee," which are said to have won Moultrie his bride and are full of passion and intense feeling. But with this exception, there is little that can claim to approach the excellence of first-rate poetry; and there are many signs that Moultrie's poetic genius was already on the wane, and that while still retaining his old power of melodious versification and vigorous expression, he had lost much of the characteristic grace and fantastic beauty of his youthful style. Even as early as 1820 he himself had misgivings on this point, for we find him writing in 'Godiva," in invocation of the Muse, Spirit which art within me, if in truth



Thou dost exist in my soul's depths, and I
Have not mistaken the hot pulse of youth
And wandering thoughts for dreams of

while in "Sir Launfal" the youthful am-
bition is spoken of as already fled.

And that fond dream which lured me on for


Through a long boyhood, saying I might


The poet's laurel with serene endeavor,
And write my name on an enduring urn,
Hath now departed.

Yet as late as 1835 Macaulay wrote to Moultrie from India: "You might have done, and if you choose may still do great things, but I cannot blame you if you despise greatness and are content with happiness." And again, in 1837, the Quarterly Review referred to the first collected edition of Moultrie's poems, as "a small volume of such decided excellence as to give the author at once a distinguished place amongst the younger poets of the day." But Moultrie, however much he may have been gratified by the encouragement of an old college friend and the praise of a critic not usually overindulgent to rising poets, was too sensible and modest not to perceive that the full height of his youthful ambition would never be realized. In the concluding stanzas which he added about this time to the fragment of "Sir Launfal" he speaks of his "fancy's frozen stream" as having ceased to flow thirteen years before. Much had happened in those years; and time had added to Moultrie's character that gravity and earnestness of purpose which had been lacking in youth; but with the gain in moral dignity and self

control, there had been (such was the for its actual poetic merits, though it has perversity of fate!) a corresponding loss many fine descriptive passages, than for in the imaginative and poetic faculty. its very interesting allusions to the auIn 1822 Moultrie had taken his degree, thor's life at Eton, Cambridge, and Rugby, and again found himself at Eton as private and the personal friends made by him at tutor to Lord Craven, who three years each period. There is a graphic account later presented him with the living of of the Eton of Moultrie's school-days, to Rugby. He was married in 1825, but did us the Eton of seventy years ago, with its not enter on his duties at Rugby until Long Chamber and theatricals, and much 1828, the year in which Arnold was ap- else that has now passed away, though pointed to the headmastership of Rugby the fagging, and the Fourth of June, and School. Henceforth the tone of his writ- the cricket-matches, remain almost as ings underwent a great change. The Moultrie has pictured them. In the book brilliant and extravagant fancy of the devoted to life at Cambridge we meet early poems is not only succeeded by a with still more interesting reminiscences. more sober and homely style, but is re- After an affectionate tribute to the memferred to in an apologetic manner as a ory of Praed, that "nature of the purest youthful levity to be condoned and forgot- mould," who had died two years before ten by the indulgent reader, in considera-"The Dream of Life" was written, the tion of the "calm and serious thought" of poet proceeds to describe the manner of the maturer writings, a large proportion his college career, his intimate friendship of which are on religious subjects. The with Derwent Coleridge, and their daily pastor-poet would fain forget the wayward flights and dreamy speculations of the boyish idealist. Yet it must be confessed that the general reader of Moultrie's works, to whom the poet is of more interest than the pastor, often sighs for the Gerard Montgomery of the Etonian, scapegrace though he was, and would willingly exchange the equable tenor of the "Lays of the English Church" for the rapid and sparkling stanzas of "Maimune" or "Godiva." Another blemish in the later writings is their increased subjectivity. It has been already said that this tendency to dwell on personal matters was from the first a marked feature in Moultrie's style, and it was now carried to excess, his family, friends, health, joys, sorrows, and domestic life being his too frequent themes. In some few of the domestic pieces, notably in "The Three Sons," a poem which is said to have affected Arnold deeply, Moultrie succeeded in striking a chord of feeling common to many hearts; but in the majority of cases the result is less successful. Yet it is apparent that he retained to the last much of his characteristic vigor, and clear, perspicuous style; and this is especially true of his sonnets, the most noteworthy of which are those to Praed, Arnold, Macaulay, Dr. Chalmers, and Baptist Noel. One addressed to Augustus Swift, a young American, was written as late as 1870, yet is remarkable for its conciseness and force.

In 1843 Moultrie published a volume entitled "The Dream of Life," "Lays of the English Church," and other poems. The first of these is an autobiography in four books of blank verse, valuable less

strolls to Grandchester, Cherry Hinton,
Trumpington, and Madingley, "sole vil
lage from the plague of ugliness in that
drear land exempt." To this strolling
propensity, by the by, indulged in to the
detriment of mathematical studies, Moul-
trie attributes his own loss of diligence
and self-discipline; but one is inclined to
think that in this retrospect he confused
consequence with cause; for the Moultrie
described in "The. Dream of Life" as
forgetful of the claims "of curves and
squares and parallelograms" is obviously
only a later picture of the Gerard Mont-
gomery of the Etonian, who "skimmed
with volatile eagerness along the gayer
and more pleasing paths of literature."
Very animated is Moultrie's account of
the debates at the Cambridge Union, and
the consequent oyster suppers in his
rooms in Petty Cury, whither "the lead-
ers of the war on either side " would often
adjourn for further informal discussion.
Those were indeed suppers of the gods,
when the company included Praed, the
youth "fresh from Etonian discipline
(words which have sometimes been
wrongly understood as applying to the
late Lord Derby); Macaulay, the "one of
ampler brow and ruder frame; Henry
Malden, afterwards Greek professor at
London University, "grave and prone to
silence;" Henry Nelson Coleridge, one
of the staff of the Etonian, and still "a
comely youth, though prematurely grey;
Charles Austin, the "pale, spare man of
high and massive brow;" Chauncey Hare
Townshend, another Etonian poet, and
his friend Charles Taylor; and last, the
brilliant but ill-fated William Sydney

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