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is, we do not think that he has ever surpassed Mr. Hankin's admirably sub. tle parody of Matthew Arnold.
Still is the sea to-day, Slow up the beach the tide Creeps with scarcely a sound, While through the languorous air, Heavy, unstirred by the breeze, Silence broods o'er the scene. And I, too, brood. I pace Here on the sands and muse On the probable meaning of life, And a question throbs in my brain, Incessant, ever renewed, What are you? What am I? After all, what is the sea ? And what, after all, is the land? I know not. Neither do you.
"The present writer does not remember to have seen Matthew Arnold treated in this spirit before. It cannot be easy to do; there are so few superficial mannerisms of phrase. This is, perhaps, the best of the Lost Masterpieces. But there are also others which are very amusing.
Mr. Swinburne's "Heptalogia," or “The Seven against Sense" belongs to the class of true stylistic parodies; and it is clear that Mr. Swinburne has the equipment which might have gained him eminence in this art. As it is, his lighter vein is marred by the faults which disfigure some of his serious poetry. He goes, indeed, straight enough to the mark, and has a sure eye and a dexterous hand for the mannerisms of metre, of phrase, even of thought. “John Jones' Wife" is in some respects as good as it can be. But Mr. Swinburne is seldom a calm critic; and, as parody is a form of criticism, he would gain as a parodist by a little more tranquillity and restraint. He is verbose, and what is worse, violent; whereas an appearance of animus is fatal to the best criticism, and especially to that form of it which consists in parody. Consequently, the "Heptalogia" falls short-despite its un
doubted skill-of absolute excellence. It is really-what some contemporaries wrongly supposed “Rejected Addresses" to be—an "attack.” It is criticism; but the criticism is of "the Quarterly, so savage and tartarly" genus. Mr. Swinburne does not handle his victim as if he loved him.
This desirable amenity is just what Mr. Seaman never lacks; and it is really indispensable to light verse. On the whole, the kind of metrical composition in which this possibly degenerate age does attain a success of its own is a neat, fluent, quasi-Horatian vein of comment on contemporary matters, generally social; it has learnt the trick from Praed and Locker-Lampson and Calverley; and now it may be said that we can boast of having made a specialty of "lightness of touch." Locker-Lampson himself, who had a right to speak, says that in occasional verse "the rhythm should be crisp and sparkling, and the rhyme frequent and never forced, while the entire poem should be marked by tasteful moderation, high finish, and completeness.” As his "London Lyrics"-recently republished in their final form, with an introduction by Mr. Austin Dobson-abundantly prove, their author spared no labor limae himself. In the sphere of verse aiming at this kind of standard Mr. Seaman is pre-eminent among the moderns; and his hand loses nothing of its cunning. That is the advantage of being a "light" versifier. Passion may cool and imagination no longer luxuriate; but "lightness of touch" should and does really improve with practice. The chief note of “London Lyrics,” it has been said, is ease. Totally unlike as the two are in subject and treatment, the same may be said of the "Harvest of Chaff”: phrase and rhyme come so spontaneously and easily as to seem “inevitable.” One is not, as in reading Praed, startled by cleverness; the cleverness is there, but
the effect is supremely natural-as nat ural as colloquial prose;
credit to him for not allowing this accident to interfere with his urbanitywhile his antitype can permit himself the detached outlook of the humorous philosopher. F.C.G.
As when within the Theban shrine,
Dim lit and redolent of spices, The devotee depressed his spine Under the mobile orbs of Isis;
Gay hearted Dryad of the trenchant
Till on a sudden, as his heart
Into an ecstasy was sinking, He saw, through some defect of art,
A priest inside who did the winking;
Then rose in wrath, and homeward
came, A disillusionized Egyptian, And from a cult, so lost to shame, Withdrew his annual subscription:
So have I known a man or two, Who worshipped once with warmth
and brio, Then noticed, on a nearer view, The mortal machina in Deo,
A hollow god of stone or clay,
puppetAnd so forsook the heavenly way, And talked no more of climbing up it.
as the “Harvest of Chafr" calls himis at present our only considerable political satirist in a lighter vein; and one can only wish that his always de lightful illustrations were wedded to verse somewhat more immortal than the not very enlivening jingles by Sir Wilfrid Lawson, which compose the other and inferior half of “Cartoons in Rhyme and Line." In verse there is at present no real professor of the difficult art of political satire. Mr. Gilbert might have occupied that chair, probably, had he chosen; but the gen. eral public could not have afforded to lose the “Bab Ballads”-neither the rhymes nor the pictures, which are instinct with the same spirit-and the operas, of which the ballads in some cases exhibit the motive and groundwork. Middle-aged persons may be excused for a feeling of superiority to the less fortunate young men and women of the present day, when they remember that their green unknowing youth was nurtured, not on Teutonic farces and “musical comedy," but on the inimitable wit and whimsicality of the Gilbertian drama in its first freshness.
But perhaps what will most appeal to the general public in Mr. Seaman's latest volume is the translation of the "Absent-minded Beggar” into a poem by the Laureate. This is a truly admirable jeu d'esprit.
In a sense F. C. G. does for politics what Mr. Seaman does for manners, with the difference, proper to their respective subjects, that Mr. Gould is a professed partisan-and all the more The London Times
If we wish to know what black magic is like, we have only to watch a man reading a book or a letter. He looks at the paper covered with cabal. istic figures as if he were gazing intently in a magic mirror, which to all intents and purposes it is. If we hap
pen to know what he is looking at we watch for the smile or frown which is sure to follow. The cabalistic figures call forth feelings of joy or anger, of hope or regret: his whole intellectual being is for the moment under a spell; but we are so used to this magic that
we fail to realize how truly marvellous Academicians (on whom be peace), are is this transmission of every possible broken reeds. The duties of an thought from mind to mind, without Academician are of course strictly a sound or a look, by means of only academic; they have not the power, if six and twenty little black marks. they had the wish, to make the ways
When these tiny marks are tam- of the literary transgressor hard. pered with, when they are not ar. It is very wrong, no doubt, to call a ranged in the form which use and wont pound a quid. The sound is unhave crystallized into well recognized pleasantly suggestive of something not symbols, a veil is interposed, the known in polite society and of nothimages are blurred or distorted, and ing else, because the only sensible deri. we gaze into the magic mirror in vain. vation from quid pro quo indicates no Possessing, as we do, this almost value and applies equally to a shilling. magic power, it is not surprising that The objection to it is not exactly that tampering with the purity of the lan- it happens to be slang. There is much guage is considered by literary purists to be said for any forceful slang term almost as heinous an offence as de- which vividly symbolizes the object or facing the currency, both language and fact alluded to. We forget that the money being, in a manner of speak word sovereign applied to a coin must ing, equally symbolic of, and a medium once have been used for the first time of exchange for, a certain given quan- as a slang expression having a clearly tity of, say, eggs, butter, or thoughts. defined meaning; even a rabid purist
This is not, we need hardly add, the does not object to it now, and it has generally accepted view. We promptly always been open to sporting youth to prosecute anyone who dares debase the call, without reproach, the gold coin coinage, but unless the improvised lan- of this country a Victoria or half-anguage and words are extra strong and Edward. It is a little surprising that beyond the very elastic limits of Anglo- this obvious opportunity should bare Saxon, we take no notice. “Don't been missed in England, seeing how touch this pound or shilling,” we seem popular the Louis and the Napoleon to say. “As a medium of exchange for have always been in France. There bread and cheese and superfluities, would have been some little sense in these coins must have the exact value such terms,-which is probably the sanctioned by law; but if you wish to reason they were never thought of. debase the language, to coin your own The Almighty Dollar, now universally words, to substitute for the substantial accepted as a vivid symbol for the and weighty noun pound the meaning- power of wealth, is a slang name less and worthless quid, there's nothing which in its origin had a high signifito prevent your doing so, and you will cance, and consequently made its way no doubt get as many cigarettes for a from continent to continent. The best bob as for a shilling."
and least adulterated silver pieces in If it should be objected that such the Middle Ages were coined in the words do not find their way into print, Joachim's Thal, hence thaler was a we can only answer that for what we slang word to conjure with, bearing know it may only be a question of somewhat of the meaning we now at. time. Many words are printed in these tach to the word sterling. The Dutch days which would not have had the introduced this word in New Amsterslightest meaning for Shakespeare or dam or New York as their daalder, Milton. We have no official censorship which in course of time became the or literary Mint; our new literary world-renowned dollar.
Before leaving this part of our sub- symbol, that of Britannia to wit. As ject we may call attention to the rather a private enterprise under a less august singular, and perhaps unique, fact that ægis it would not be tolerated for a we have in our penny a symbol repre moment. senting double what it actually is Such are some of the minor difficulworth, constituting a curious exception ties connected with our trust in symto the general rule that the intrinsic bols, a trust which governs our life to value of a symbol is as nothing to what a far greater extent than we are perit represents. Many of us remember haps aware of. Carlyle made us ob that our pennies used to be much serve how the blue coat of the policelarger than they are to-day; they are man keeps order and the red robe of now worth about a halfpenny in metal, the judge inspires awe. Without knowand as representing the twelfth part of ing it we all in a greater or lesser a shilling they are deceptive and seri- degree imitate the councillors of that ously lacking in substance. Whether first Governor of New York who, bapthe Government make any profit on pening to be prevented from attending this apparently nefarious transaction, a council meeting, and fearing they whether they actually draw from us a might in his absence forget the awe shillingsworth of silver for the six- with which he inspired them, caused pennyworth of copper they issue to us, his hat and stick to be placed on the is a question which we must leave our green cloth as a significant reminder. currency doctors to decide. We are In the midst of a rebellious speech the told that we must look on our small eye of a recalcitrant councillor would bronze change only as tokens, and not fall on these emblems or symbols of trouble our heads about their value, authority and, hesitating, he would which, as the matter is of small impor- mutter some apology and close by extance to each of us as an individual, pressing his cordial approval of the we have no objection to do, casually Governor's remarks if his Excellency remembering that the issue of tokens had been present to make them. In has often been prohibited, among the same way the tyrant Gessler put others by Charles the First who his hat on a post, and required every granted to the Duchess of Richmond loyal Swiss to do obeisance before the and others the exclusive right to coin symbol, until William Tell sent an farthing tokens for seventeen years. arrow through the apple and another The farthings issued by these patentees through the tyrant himself. were, we are told in history, the sub The trifling detail that Tell never ject of much discontent, as they were existed is of small importance for our greatly below the intrinsic value of the argument. Gessler undoubtedly did metal. If we are not discontented with exist, and so of course did his hat. our diminutive pennies now, it is not As a symbolical story of proud rebecause we consider them, with Mr. sistance to injustice and oppression, Mantalini, beneath our notice, but sim- every country's history has a William ply for the reason that life is too short Tell. We have one in William of to work out and clearly understand Cloudesly, in one of the old ballads, these difficult questions of political who shot an apple off his son's head economy, our existence being, as bas and so pleased the queen (name un. often been remarked, only a series of known), that she granted him the sin. compromises all round. We accept this gular pension of thirteen pence a day. doubtful coin because it is stamped The extra penny may have been to with a very significant emblem or make up weight, who knows?
The head-covering has at all times fascination for the unhappy, and proba. played a strangely symbolic part in our bly innocent, man. In those days, now lives. It is difficult to say when, happily gone by, no one seems to have where, and how the custom of remov. reflected on the unnecessary cruelty of ing it as a sign of respect first origi- harrowing the feelings of men about nated; it is not, as we are now too much to die by such shocking judicial byinclined to think, an instinctive and play. natural action or impulse. It is true N ot every prisoner treated this purely a Japanese coolie or ricksha-runner will symbolic but otherwise superfluous and remove his straw hat before he begins unpleasant ceremony as contemptuousto vituperate a competitor, but in other ly as did Lord Balmerino. When the Oriental countries the custom does not three coaches conveyed the Lords prevail. Jews wear their hats in their Kilmarnock, Balmerino, and Cromartie synagogues, and Penn refused to take from the Tower to be sentenced at off his hat even in the presence of King Westminster on the 28th of July, 1746, Charles, who removed his own with a difficulty arose. It was not laid the witty remark that one of the two down by prescription or use in which must really do it, since only one hat coach, if there were more than one, can be worn when the king is present. the fatal axe had to be carried. “Oh,
That the action of uncovering is not put the — thing in here," cried brave essentially reverential in itself is old Balmerino; "I don't care." proved by the fact that at the most Yet notwithstanding his contempt for solemn part of a trial the judge in this horrid symbol, the undaunted old England covers his head. As we know, man cheerfully suffered death for his an occult meaning attaches to the hat sincere attachment to another symbol, in the House of Commons. It is hard the White Cockade. The Lord Kilmarto understand why members must, for nock in the next coach was dreadfully instance, speak covered after a divi- frightened, as he showed himself to be, sion has been called; but with the fear by his thorough realization of what the of the Clock-Tower before our eyes we awful axe would mean to him. He do not care to dwell overmuch on the enquired minutely into all the details symbolism which Parliament in its wis- of an execution, wanted the Governor dom has decreed.
of the Tower to tell him whether his Every one is aware of the dreadfully head would roll or rebound, and when significant part the executioner's axe on the scaffold he saw the executioner plays in a trial for high treason. The dressed in white, with a white apron, sharp symbol of death is carried be- he whispered to his chaplain, “Home, fore the prisoner with its blunt side how horrible!” But he cared not a turned towards him so long as he has brass farthing, as he said himself, for not been sentenced, and just before the symbolic white ribbon of the sentence is pronounced the sharp edge Stuarts; being ruined and starving, he is turned his way. Evelyn, who was would, he said, have fought for Mapresent at the trial of Lord Stafford homet if that religious Pretender had in 1680, tells us that the axe was set up his standard on the braes of turned edgeways to the unfortunate Mar. nobleman so soon as it was ascer- As a set off against these mournful iltained that the voting of the Peers lustrations we may call to mind the went against him,-an effective but laughable collection of symbols made ghastly piece of stage-management by Sir Walter Scott. When by miswhich must have had a sickening chance the informer Murray of Brough.