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volutionary movement at all until the New Criticism came, and the example of the Scandinavian drama has stimulated thought and action to a degree which the party of progress could scarcely have hoped for at first. Mr. Pinero himself has felt the benefit of the influence, and the best play Mr. Jones has done, “ The Crusaders,” was the outcome of that influence. The New Criticism, the criticism of progress, had a hard task before it, but it has worked hard and succeeded beyond its dreams. It has done much. It has much more to do.
JUSTIN HUNTLY MCCARTHY.
An IMMEDIATE RESPONSE TO APPEAL. D ARELY, indeed, has response to what I may call prayer come Il so immediately and so gratifyingly as in the case of my paragraph in last month's Gentleman's Magazine, entitled "A New National Library.” At the very moment when that paragraph appealing for a library for the scholar, “confined to the works of great cost and importance,” for which he has need, was put into the hands of the public, the very ideal library for which I asked was being given to the country by Mrs. Rylands. Perfectly accidental was the coincidence, and I had not the slightest glimmer of the fact that such a gift was contemplated. When I heard of the prospective sale of the Althorp Library, with which I dealt in a companion paragraph, the idea of a purchase by the nation of that noble collection entered my mind, only to be dismissed as visionary and unpractical. At the same moment, fortunately, the same idea entered into the mind of another who was able to regard the purchase as practical, who bought the library en bloc, is about to place it in a convenient home and give it to England. Of all libraries in the world—such, that is, as can conceivably come into the market—this is the ideal to form the nucleus, and, indeed, to constitute the library of which I speak. When once the books are lodged in their new home it is certain that lacuna will be filled up, and that other bequests will follow. That the library will be located in Manchester instead of London, I must regret for other than purely selfish reasons. The motive is, however, so respectable and so pious that I could not dream of protest. Happy is the land that has citizens capable of endowing it with such a treasure.
Our LATEST ACQUISITION.
withdraw. The dissociating of themselves from the intellectual life of the nation on the part of the great families is part of that democratising of our lives and institutions the signs of which
are everywhere evident. It is clear that a nobleman is not called upon to consult me before he sells what is as much his own as his stud. If anything were needed to reconcile me to this state of affairs, it is the fact that the greatest of private libraries, long practically outside my ken, will now be brought within it sọ soon as the formalities of the circumlocution office will permit. I will urge, however, that this collection stands on a different footing from the British Museum, and that access to it should, as I before suggested, be confined to serious students and men of guaranteed reputation. Books of value, at the British Museum even, are not at the mercy of all comers, and with all precautions the record of destruction and loss is sufficiently dismal. In club libraries I have known a member, to save hin.self a trifle, cut a tract from a bound volume in the library. From ravage of this kind our new acquisition must be protected. So soon as these treasures are on view, I shall seek for an opportunity of inspecting them, and shall hope then to say something more to my readers concerning them.
MR. HENLEY'S POEMS. CONCERNING the value of Mr. Henley's poems, to which also
I drew attention in the August number of the Gentleman's Magazine, I have received gratifying, if unneeded, support. As to the merits of those productions, I would hold my own opinion in opposition, were such a thing possible, to the assembled and united voices of criticism. In the Fortnightly Review for the same month, however, my opinion was fortified by that of a most competent judge, in Mr. Arthur Symons. A space I could not claim was at the disposal of Mr. Symons, who has dedicated to Mr. Henley's literary accomplishment an entire essay. The verdict is in each case, however, the same, and the poems and even the passages chosen for quotation are same, and the permisand.com in some cases identical. “London Voluntaries," which I mentioned with highest praise, is obviously a favourite with Mr. Symons, and the refrain beginning
What have I done for you,
England, my England ? is also quoted with admiration. On the revolutionary aspects of Mr. Henley his critic dwells, and the latest volume of poems is regarded as “a vigorous challenge, a notable manifesto," on behalf of “the art of modernity in poetry.” I cannot follow further Mr. Symons, but am pleased to find that our opinions are in so plenary accord.
“TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES." I A MONG the novels of the past season Mr. Thomas Hardy's A "Tess of the D'Urbervilles : a Pure Woman,” has been the most discussed and the most commended. It is, indeed, a powerful and harrowing, if not wholly satisfying, story. There is much boldness in selecting as a pure heroine a woman whose honour is twice sacrificed-once to her ignorance, and a second time to her poverty. The old charm of Mr. Hardy's descriptions of rural life is preserved, and the pictures are as vivid as they can be. Some influence upon a vigorous English mind of the latest form of French realism however appears, and Tess's murder of her villainous lover may be compared with the slaughter of her husband by Pauline Blanchard, as exhibited recently by Mme. Sarah Bernhardt. I would rather Mr. Hardy would stick to his old English style, and keep his heroine from the gallows; and his final picture of the hero hand-in-hand with his future wife, the sister of the woman who has died for him, fails either to win sympathy or carry conviction.
ON "SELECTIONS.” A BIBLIOPHILE acharné, as the French say, and a genuine A lover also of the contents of books, I am not disposed to look with too much approval upon selections from the works of great authors. A florilegium or an anthology, except when it preserves to us poems elsewhere inaccessible, scarcely appeals to me. I admit that there are men so busy that they cannot afford time to read much poetry even if they had the taste, which they rarely have. I am not of these. The admirable selections from the old dramatists of Lamb and Leigh Hunt have not weaned me from the originals whenever I can obtain access to them; and though there are authors of mark concerning whom I know discreditably little, I do not want other people to taste them for me, and I mean to read them when I have leisure, that leisure to which we all look with a sort of pensive halfhope, and awaiting which Death finds us and leads us away. Books of criticism, such as Leigh Hunt's “ Imagination and Fancy" and “Wit and Humour,” Hazlitt's “Essays,” and Warton's enchanting “History of Poetry,” sent me in search of the writers from whom they gave appetising extracts. In saying these things I am not seeking to force on my readers unsolicited and unwanted fragments of autobiography, I am only preparing them to attach full value to a
Osgood, M·Ilvaine, & Co.
species of recantation I am preparing. When in a pretty and readable form one obtains a masterpiece of a man whose whole works rest in comfort upon the shelves, with some dust upon their tops awaiting their turn to be read in the leisure that cometh not, one is lured into reading it out of turn, and one is occasionally thankful for having been so tempted. It must be a work complete in itself, however, and not a volume of “beauties.”
Swift's “POLITE CONVERSATION." To a temptation of the kind I have just yielded with very
1 gratifying results to myself. An edition, edited by Mr. Saintsbury, of Swift's “Polite Conversation,” in three dialogues, has been added to the “Chiswick Press” editions of Messrs. Whittingham. More years than I care to count have elapsed since I first read this masterpiece, and I had but a faint recollection of its brilliancy. Nothing can, of course, surpass in satire "Gulliver ”and “The Battle of the Books.” The “Polite Conversation” is, however, worthy to stand side by side with these immortal works; and it has a tolerance for human error not common with Swift-with something positively approaching good nature. As Mr. Saintsbury says of the characters by whom the dialogue is maintained: they “are scarcely satirised; they are hardly caricatured. Not one of them is made disagreeable ; not one of them offensively ridiculous.” How brilliantly painted are they, moreover; and their dialogue is good enough almost for Congreve or Sheridan. It is difficult to resist the conviction that Swift had the making of a brilliant comedy-writer. He seems, indeed, to have felt this, and in the exquisitely humorous Introduction he says: "My most ingenious Friend already mentioned, Mr. Colley Cibber, who does too much honour to the Laurel Crown he deservedly wears (as he hath often done to many Imperial Diadems placed on his Head), was pleased to tell me that, if my Treatise were formed into a Comedy, the Representation, performed to advantage on one Theatre, might very much contribute to the Spreading of polite Conversation among all Persons of Distinction through the whole Kingdom.” This is mere banter, but Colley Cibber was too good a judge of wit not to have been capable of feeling and uttering the opinion assigned him. Another whim of the author, meanwhile, that schools for the study of his book should be established, has been practically carried out, since a very large percentage of his jokes are still retailed in conversation.