A. Balfour Symington L. T. Meade.

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mystery pervading it, retains a hold for ever on the
imagination of those who read it. And again,
though we can confidently expect that the bulk of
his essays, critical and creative as they are at the
same time, will secure him his fame, it is none the
less true that the more imaginative they are the
more do they call forth his geni us.

We have said that De Quincey*s genius lay in
the exquisite fusion of what he drew from books
and what he drew from life ; and this is true, for,
though it is possible to trace the two elements in
all his works, it is impossible, with but few excep-
tions, to separate them one from another without
destroying his power. The most notable excep-
tion is the fragment, ** Suspiria de Profundis,"
which, embodying dreams, contains the finest
and grandest passages he ever wrote. For the
rest, it is most instructive to see how much his
" Autobiographical ketches " depend for their
interest on the chain of literary ideas he links to
them, how his finest essays, such as the " Spanish
Military Nun," are either history emphasized by
arguments and heightened by dreams, or, like
" Murder considered as one of the Fine Arts,"
are imaginative tours deforce, mingling his obser-
vations, and investigations of human nature,
with history, anecdote, and condition; and
how his most purely literary, his critical and
biographical papers owe their insight to what
may be called a worldly point of view.
To stretch a theory, however, to account for
every fact, it must be admitted is pre-eminently
the critic's vice. To what degree the taking of
opium stimulated De Quincey*s imagination and
supplied his insight is a point on which opinions
are divided, and we shall therefore not press our
own view further, viz., that his imaginative vein
might conceivably have been much less remark-
able under different circumstances, but shall con-
sider this quality independently of its origin.
Imagination he possessed, indeed, to an extraor-
dinary degree. Here is a specimen of his power,
taken from " The Spanish Military Nun," describ-
ing Kate's escape from the convent : —

** Now she was ready ; ready to cast off St. Sebastian's
towing rope ; ready to cut and run for port anywhere,
which port (according to a smart American adage) is to



be looked for ' at the back of beyond.* The finishing
touch of her preparations was to pick out the proper
keys ; even there she showed the same discretion. She
did no gratuitous mischief. She did not take the wine
cellar key, which would have irritated the good Father
Confessor ; she did not take the key of the closet which
held the peppermint water and other cordials, for that
would have distressed the elderly nuns. She took those
keys only that belonged to her, if ever keys did ; for they
were the keys that locked her out from her natural
birthright of liberty. Very different views are taken
by different parties of this particular act now meditated
by Kate. The Court of Rome treats it as the immediate
suggestion of Hell, and open to no forgiveness. Another
Court, far loftier, ampler, and of larger authority — viz.,
the Court which holds its dreadful tribunal in the
human heart and conscience — pronounces this act an
inalienable privilege of man, and the mere reassertion
of a birthright that can neither be bought nor sold."

Here is one fact De Quincey gives us — Kate
took the keys and escaped from the convent —
and straightway his imagination clothes it with
a most amusing tissue in which wit and wisdom
equally blend — wit, be it especially remarked as
being one of the m^ny of his characteristics which
no single paper on him can do more than barely
mention. In this passage we have a very good
example of the richness of De Quince y*s mind,
and the logical way it worked. First, we have
a little hit at the foible of the good father confessor,
then a little picture of the convent's domestic
economy, then a most telling stab at the Roman
Catholic Church, which puts the case against it
in a nutshell, and lastly, a little argument to re-
instate Kate in the reader's good opinion.

Through this faculty of imagination it is, indeed,
that De Quincey has left a permanent mark on
our literature. All critics, be it said, good or bad,
are too apt to generalize on the laws of literature,
to lay down comprehensive schemes of literary
classification, showing authoritatively what laws
an author must observe to succeed. But De
Quincey, by his writings, shows us that all such
schemes are of necessity futile, and that genius
naturally seeks and discovers the best forms of
expression suited to itself, and evolving new
combinations, vindicates its right to depart from
tradition. In " The Spanish Military Nun,"
" The Revolt of the Tartars," and " Joan of Arc,"
De Quincey has turned history into romance in
a manner that has no parallel, yet so successfully
that only pedants can object: but it is injhis



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psissages ot prose poehy that he especially defies
criticism. About the time he began to write
there was a very general impression that prose
was separated from poetry by an inseparable
barrier, and that poetry was necessarily the
superior vehicle of expression. At the present
day very few critics hold that opinion, and De
Quincey has done more than any other writer to
bring that change about. De Quincey is, be it
said, a master in this peculiar art of expressing
I>oetical ideas and images in prose by borrowing
the music, colour, and rhythm of verse. The
following example is taken from " The English
Mail Coach " :—

"Then was completed the passion of the mighty
fugue. The golden tubes of the organ which, as yet.
bad but muttered at intervals— gleaming amongst clouds
and surges of incense — threw up, as from fountains
unfathomable, columns of heart-shattering music. Choir
and anti-choir were filling fast with unknown voices.
Thou, also, Dying Trumpeter ! — with thy love that was
victorious, and thy anguish that was finishing— did 'st
enter the tumult ; trumpet and ecl;io— farewell love and
farewell anguish — rang through the dreadful sanctus. Oh,
darkness of th i grave ! that from the crimson altar and
from the fiery font wert visited and searched by the
effulgence in the aogel's eye— were these, indeed, thy
children? Pomps of life, that, from the burials of
centuries, rose again to the voice of perfect joy, did ye.
indeed, mingle vdth the festivals of Death ? "

Who, after reading the splendid Dream-fugue,
from which this passage is a quotation, can
separate prose and poetry into two distinct
spheres ? All the attributes of poetry are con-
tained in it except two — metre and rhyme — the



lack of which would have rendered useless his
poetic gift had he not created a new form for it
We ought not to leave De Quincey withoct
alluding to that quality to which, more tbant)
any other, it may be said with some littk
exaggeration, it is that he owes his place-
we mean his style. Young writers arc k
often urged to adopt a good style that thcj
come to think of it as independent of matter;
whereas in fact an authors style is an index hks
mind. You can easily see that this is so by com
paring great writers one with another ; the style
of each is peculiar to himself, for, expressing his
thoughts and feelings, it must necessarily express
the w.%y he thinks and feels. Now, De Quinceys
style is one that may be studied by beginners ii
literature with great advantage. They will lean
from his essays, directly, that his discursive,
logical, and polished style therein corresponcs
exactly to his versatile, clear, and subtle intellect,
and indirectly, that their own difficulties in expres^
sion will disappear in proportion as their desire
becomes eager to express someth\ng and not any-
thing. And from his splendid purple patches ol
languages they will learn that as to nprodua i
scene, an idea, an emotion, requires art, an author
must be an artist in words. They will learn aL^
from " The Confessions of an English Opium-
eater " that everybody who seeks to express
beautiful ideas will find beautiful words; and
that as style can only be taught in the rare case
where one man impresses his mental views upon
another, that to copy any writer's manner i
expression is to sacrifice one's originality.

Edward Garkht.



SCHOLARSHIP COMPETITION QUESTION.

' " In The Spanish Military Nun and Joaw of Arc, De Quincy has turned history into romance o
a manner that has no parallel." Illustrate this from either of the chosen Essays.

7= Work Selected.— /(^aw of Arc, or The Spanish Military Nun. (De Quinces Works, VoLlH
A. and C. Black.)

Papers must contain not more than 500 words, and must be sent in by August 25.
Author Selected for September. — Bulwer Lytton.



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SEARCH QUESTIONS IN ENGLISH LITERATURE.



Of what young lady was it remarked that her *• Shoes
were odd, and her temper even '• ?

II.

What were the names of the Shepherds who kept their
flocks on the Delectable Mountains ?



III.
Explain the expression *• Jed wood justice."



IV.



And from their circuit peaPd o'er bush and bank
The matin bell with summons long and deep."

(3) ** There is sweet music here that softer falls
Than petals from blown roses on the grass.
Here are cool mosses deep,
And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep,
And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in
sleep."



V.
Of whom was the following written ?

• Emigravit is the inscription on the tombstone where he
lies ;



Where may the following quotations be found, and to Dead he is not, — ^but departed, — for the artist never dies."
what places do they refer ?

(i) •• Thou art the garden of the world, the home
Of all art yields, and nature can decree."



<2) " Half church of God, half castle 'gainst the Scot,



Where tower and buttress rose in martial rank.
And girdled in the massive donjon keep.



VI.

What was the chief item of anxiety in the life of Mr.
Todgers?

VII.

Who lived at the following places? — i. Norton Bury
2. Violet Bank. 3. Moor House. 4. The Hall Farm.



Answers to be sent in by August 15 ; they should be addressed to the Superintendent, R.U.



ANSWERS TO SEARCH QUESTIONS (JULY;.



Thackeray. (Vanity Fair.)



II.

Little children; grasshopoers ; tiny fairies; little
boats ; pale Diana ; little nounders ; dogs ; autumn
leaves ; apparitions — all these " axe fond of skipping.
But oh ! how Readers skip, In heavy volumes dipping."
{Skipping: A Mystery. Hood.)

III.

I. •• Redgauntlet." 2. " The Talisman." 3. "Quentin
Durward" {Louis XL). 4. "Heart of Midlothian."
5- *' Fortunes of Nigel " (George Heriot). 6. *• Peveril of
the Peak" (Charles II). 7. *• Rob Roy." 8. "Guy
Mannering." 9. •*Ivanhoe" (Robin Hood).

IV.

Because he had only called to let the Watsons know
that he was on his way home to an eight o'clock dinner,
and the idea of sitting down to sup^>er, to a man whose
heart had been long fixed on calling his next meal a
<^uuier, was quite insupportable. (Jane Austen. The
WaUons.)



V.

I. By Romeo, at the tomb of Juliet. 2. Spoken by
Rosalind, to Celia (As You Like It). 3. By Benedick,
after over-hearing the conversation about Beatrice.
4. Said by the Duke of Gloucester, afterwards Richard
III., to Queen Margaret. 5. When the witches were
showing the apparitions to Macbeth. 6. Said by the
clown, after singing to the Duke (Twelfth Night). 7
Spoken by King Lear, after the death of Cordelia. 8.
When Coriolanus is trying to resist his wife's and
mother's entreaties to return to Rome. 9. After the
death of Hamlet.

VI.

Three Johns.

1. The real John ; known only to his Maker.

2. John's ideal John; never the real one, and often
very unlike him.

3. Thomas's ideal John; never the real John, nor
John's John, but often very unlike either.

Three Thomases.

1. The real Thomas.

2. Thomas's ideal Thomas.

3. John's ideal Thomas.




ON TEACHING TO SWIM.



ALL who have come to the ruminating stage
will agree with me in thinking that a first
achievement is something quite apart. The first
bird you shot on the wing, the first trout you
lured with the fly, is not to be confounded with
any bird or fish lured or shot in after days. I
have the most vivid and delightful recollection of
these two great events in my life ; but the remem-
brance of them grows pale before that of the week
or ten days in which I learnt to swim — learnt to
forge my way through the water with ease and
pleasure, where before I had only been able to
struggle convulsively for a few moments and then
sink. I remember with delight the warm summer
weather and the feverish eagerness with which I
looked for twelve o'clock, when we hurried off to
the beautifully clear river, and there, day by day,
made some new advance ; until after a fortnight
or so after making my first rough but genuine
strokes I became a competent swimmer, and began
to revel in the deeper water. But it was a work
of brute force ; I had no instruction or method.
It was the result of absolute determination not to
be left behind, but, whether with head above or
head beneath, to force my way through the water
as other boys were doing. I must then have been
about thirteen years of age. I am now convinced
that, with a little judicious teaching, I might have
learned five years before, and without any great
effort. My own children, boys and girls, and
others who have been to me as children, have not



had the opportunities of bathing that I had, but
they have gone with me every year to the seaside
in a country place for four or five weeks, and as
soon as they were old enough to bathe with me
they severally learnt to swim, after a few lessons
and without effort. It may, perhaps, interest
many people who take their children to the sea-
side to hear how this was accomplished, for it
is certain that, notwithstanding the ease with
which many learn to swim, there remain
thousands of boys and girls, more girls, per-
haps, than boys, who eagerly desire, but are
unable to master this simple art. The Brown
Owl requires brevity, so I must to business, and
explain the method I have adopted with unfailing
success. First, as to choice of bathing place. I
have sacrificed everything to getting calm water.
This is essential, and you will generally find on
our coast some creek or pool where this can be
secured. The water should be from four to fis'e
feet deep, so that the teacher can stand and the
pupil cannot. Oral instruction should be given at
home, so that when repeated in the water the
pupil will understand at once, for it is not exactly
the time for explanation when a child is shivering
with cold or timidity, or half choked with a dose
of salt water.

The chief difference between my method and
that of others is, that I begin by teaching to swim
on the back and then on the face. The reasons
for this are clear ; I need not enter into them in a



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THE BROWN OWL,



70J



papef that has a purely practical aim ; but I am
ready to explain and to defend them. Well, having
instructed my pupil orally as much as possible at
home, and having assured him that on no account
will I let him sink if he will do what I tell him,
I lay him gently on his back, telling him to arch
his body, as if the back of his head were resting
on one chair and his heels on another, and to
extend his arms on the water at right angles to
his body. I then place my right hand under the
middle of his body and my left under his chin —
the first in order to give him confidence, and to
help him to arch his body ; the second, not to
support his body at. all, but to force the head
backwards as far as possible, with the chin in the
air, and the back of the head, and even the fore-
head, under the water. This, remember, is the
only secret of floating. It is said that floating is
all a matter of confidence. And so it is. But if
you have all the confidence in the world, you will
sink if you do not dispose your body correctly.
And if you are dying of fright you will float if you
consistently keep in the right position. Now, let
us notice what action it is that the want of con-
fidence invariably induces — for the action is
always the same. The pupil will try to raise his
head, and in doing so will also lift his feet out of the
water, thereby destroying the arched or horizontal
position of the body, and bending it in the contrary
way. Everybody now knows that sea water will
enable the human frame to float, only by displac-
ing almost as much water as the space occupied
by the body itself. That is to say, if you will
let every part of your frame, in which I include
the head, rest on the water, it will just allow you
to keep your nose and face free, without any
exertion on your part, but if you raise your head
and feet (and you arc sure to raise the feet if
you raise the head), as a beginner always tries
to do, you are bound to sink. I watch carefully,
then, for this movement of my pupil, and by hand
and voice urge him to keep his head thrown back,
and it cannot be too far back ; the forehead should
be covered. Any attempt to lay hold of my hand
is promptly and severely repressed.

After a little while there is no convulsive effort
to raise the head. Nevertheless, the left hand must
not be taken from the chin ; but if I am convinced
that there will be no eff*ort to raise the head,
I gently remove the right hand. I then tell my



pupil that he is floating, as he clearly is, for th«
hand under the chin is not a support. It is-
prudent, and only kind, after a little while, to lift
the pupil up and take him in your arms, and let
him have a little breathing-time. I then repeat the
exercise, removing even the hand from the chin^
if I am assured that there will be no effort to raise
the head. The first lesson has always been
enough to prove, by the experience of the pupil*
himself, that the water will support the body, and
allow ample power of breathing, if only the head
is thrown well back and kept consistently in that
position. This is enough for one day. On the
next occasion I repeat the lesson, removing the
right hand almost immediately and the left as sooQ
as possible. The pupil soon learns that his sole
safety from a dose of salt water depends on keeping
his head thrown back. I now allow him to
float for a longer time, until he feels quite at
home. Before the third lesson I give fair warning
that I expect further progress, and that the pupil,
from being a mere log, must now become an
active agent — must, in fact, become a swimmer.

This will be done by opening the knees (not
drawing them up to the chin), and by kicking not
backwards, but out to the side. The kicks should
not be too rapid, and here will be seen th^ advan-
tage of learning on the back. There is no irre-
sistible impulse to make rapid kicks. On the
contrary, the timid pupil, knowing that by simply
extending himself he can avoid swallowing salt
water, will often be reluctant to repeat the kicks,
because the first eff*ect is often to send the head
under water. The sole cause of this is that as
soon as any movement is required the arched
position is abandoned, and there is a tendency to
raise the head. But by alternately encouraging
the pupil to kick out and then to straighten him-
self with head thrown back, it will soon be found
that he will do either at the word of command.

Before the end of the sixth lesson I have invari-
ably found that he would swim twenty yards, and,
what is more important, resting when he is told
to rest, and striking out when he is told to strike.
From want of space I have omitted many details,
and must altogether defer the change from back to
face. I do not say that when the stage to which
I have come has been reached a pupil is a com-
|>etent swimmer ; but I say the secret is now an
open one, the necessary confidence has been



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704



THE BROWN OWL,



gained, and it is now only a question of practice
.and effort. My experience refers more to boys
than girls ; but when I have had a girl for a pupil
she has been quite as quick to learn. The only
reason why girls do not learn in greater numbers
-is because the conditions under which they
attempt to do so are unfavourable. Their bathing
is confined to the seaside, and on our coast the
water is generally more or less rough and always
.cold, and competent instruction is scarce. If
parents would take their girls to sea-side places
where there are sea- water baths raised to a'
moderate temperature, then the chief of the
.adverse conditions vanish, and under the method
I have too briefly tried to explain there would be
no difficulty in teaching them to swim by hundreds.
Swimming requires no special aptitude more than
walking, no special courage, strength, or gift. And
if I were given five boys and five girls as pupils for
three weeks I should expect the same measure of
success with the girls as with the boys ; for it is a
moral certainty that they would all be competent
swimmers by the end of the third week.*

D, G, Thomas.

ANEW book has just appeared, called A
Social Departure (Chatto and Windus).
It has a second title, " How Orthodocia and I
went Round the World by Ourselves." Its
author, Sara Jeannette Duncan, has dedicated the
volume, "as a slight tribute to the c mnipotence of
her opinion, and a humble mark of profoundest
respect, to Mrs. Grundy." This book is a departure
jn more senses than one. It is a book of travel
which is not dull, not hackneyed, free from dry
statistics, with nothing at all pedantic or meant to
be informing about it. The adventures, too, are
nothing extraordinary. Given equal spirit and
courage, they might happen to anyone. Yet the
book is fascinating from cover to cover. It reads
like a fairy-tale, only the fairies are real, and the
fitories true.

Now, this is what Orthodocia and her friend
did. They overcame the prejudice of their friend-,
who were terribly afraid of Mrs. Grundy, and, like
the lady of Ireland, who " felt not the least alarm,"
started on a tour round the world. Their point of
departure was Canada, from where they went

* This paper invites discussion. All letters or remarks must
reach the Editor not later than August 20, and must have the words
'* Brown Owl ♦• on the cover.



over the prairies and across the Rockies, and
finally took ship from Vancouver to Japan.
From the first, Orthodocia and her friend de-
termined to look at life through rose-coloured
spectacles. The effect that these glasses gave to
all the things they saw, to all the adventures that
came to them, was simply this : trouble vanished,
hardships were nowhere, fatigue was not to be
spoken about. The whole thing was a gay joke,
a delicious, vivifying, youthful experience. For the
girls were very young and so fresh that, with the
aid of their youth and those same glasses, they
looked at the world in quite a new way, which is
one of the reasons why the book now published
will give pleasure wherever it is read.

The life in Japan is described in graphic
touches. First of all there was an awful interview
with the reporter of a Japanese newspaper. The
account of that interview must be read, for to
describe it fully would take up too much space,
and to cut it down would spoil it.

After the interview, the next thing of note is
where the travellers would keep house for them-
selves in Japan. They took a house in Tokio, had
Japanese servants, and adopted as far as possible
the manners of the country. By-and-by they were
asked into Japanese society, where they saw some
pretty sights, and heard many novel and amusing
things. The Japanese are beginning to learn
European ways, and the mixture cf old Japan and
modern England in their toilettes must have been
irresistibly funny. The writer says —

" We were sorely tried by certain hybrid
costumes which were introduced to us with
profound gravity. On one occasion, when Ortho-
docia was doing her best to converse with a j'oung
gentleman in tennis shoes, a silk hat, and a
dressing-jacket, and I talked to another in tails
and a Tam-o*-Shanter, one of the young Taka-
yanagis bore down upon us with still another in
irreproachable evening dress, lavender kids, patent
leather shoes, white tie and all — and, garnished
as to his neck with a large, fluffy, comfortable
Manchester bath towel, best quality."

Orthodocia and her friend were at a garden
party, given by Mr. Takayanagi, when this appari-
tion appeared. Reintroduced to them his sisters,



Online LibraryA. Balfour Symington L. T. MeadeAtalanta → online text (page 101 of 110)