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he does what he wants to, and how much
observation and knowledge is behind his work.
His subsidiary details are always exquisitely
right.

The third work is the third and final volume
of Mr. Pepys' Diary of the Great Warr, published
by John Lane. When the first volume appeared
I expressed the opinion that, light and topical
as was this Diary, conceived originally as a
weekly column in a paper, it nevertheless
had a chance of prolonged life. I still hold
that opinion. Tht people who have lived
at home during the war will read it years hence
I am certain ; it records precisely those
142



War Humour: Peace Day, 1919

rumours, intrigues, odd social phenomena
that have been most interesting and exciting
whilst they lived through them. Whether
posterity, which will not understand all the
allusions, will read the book is, I know, another
matter. But people are always digging up
correspondence of this gossipy kind from the
Napoleonic period, the diary of the Rt. Hon.
John Jupp and the Letters of Lady Georgiana
Rappee ; and many people find them far better
reading than formal histories. The new Pepys
" saw it through " not as exceptional thinking
people saw it through, but as thousands of
substantial and fairly important people saw it
through. His comment (with the next
sentences) on the Tsar's death is typical :
" God rest him ! being a fool, I do believe,
more than a rogue, and his wife meddles in
his affairs, to his undoing. Which do make of
him a lesson to all husbands. Our design was
this day to play golph at Tolputt's club, but
the foulnesse of the day do thwart it." The
book is a faithful reflection of five years in the
West End, and it is one of the most ingenious
and faithful prose parodies in existence.
Parodying Pepys may seem easy, but many
people have tried it and I do not remember one
before who, for all his painstaking misspellings
and references to Sir W. Pen and my lady
Castlemaine, has succeeded.



Books in General



Ward's English Poets

rwas in or about 1880 that Vol. IV. of
Mr. Humphry Ward's selections from
the English Poets was published. In
1894 an Appendix was added, containing
selections from Browning, Matthew Arnold
and Tennyson. This appendix has now been
detached from Volume IV. and placed at the
beginning of Volume V., and which covers the
ground from Browning to Rupert Brooke.
There are over six hundred closely printed
pages. They contain short biographies, critical
studies, and representative poems of almost
all the great or meritorious poets of the period ;
and the price charged is what people, in these
days of paper famine, have grown accustomed
to pay for short and worthless books of memoirs
or pseudo-history that perish in six months.

I have never known any man completely
satisfied with any anthology ; I am as nearly
satisfied with this as I have been with any so
large and comprehensive, except Q's first
Oxford Book. There are few omissions ; one
I will mention later, and another is Wilde,
who although not generally of much use as a
poet, at least wrote in The Ballad of Reading
Gaol something which, to put it modestly,
equals the best efforts of Lord Lytton and Lord
144



Ward's 'English Poets"

Houghton, P. B. Marston and Sir Alfred Lyall.
Alexander Smith, Lord de Tabley, and John
Davidson (where is The Runnable Stag ?) are
not well treated ; but most of the larger people
are represented almost perfectly. No room
could be found for The Scholar Gipsy, but the
editor partly atones for the defect by admitting
it ; and if some works by Tennyson are allowed
in that no one making a new selection now
would choose, and some omitted that are by
general consent among his best, the general
level of the selections from him and Browning,
Morris, Swinburne and Christina Rossetti is
high. I don't know where else so much of the
best work of the nineteenth century can be
obtained within one cover.

With the reservation, implied above, that
we cannot all agree, I should like to say that
the selection is weakest where one would
expect to it be weakest, namely, at the end.
Not the end of the end, for Rupert Brooke,
whose sudden fame must have thundered in
Mr. Ward's ears just as he was completing
the volume, is adequately, though not more
than adequately, represented in seventeen
pages. But Flecker, who died before Brooke
(and of whose nascent greatness Brooke himself
was certainly aware), is omitted altogether.
This suggests that Mr. Ward and if I may
use the word inoffensively his cronies were
not, three years ago, in touch with the best of

K 145



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the younger writers ; though they must have
become dimly aware of Flecker by now.
Again, several pages are wasted on the scentless
roses and tinsel stars of Richard Middleton,
nine pages are given to manly legends of
Adam Lindsay Gordon, nine to the petrified
beauties of John Addington Symonds, and
twelve, no fewer than twelve, to Stephen
Phillips ; whilst Francis Thompson who, if
he missed the highest rank, was worth all those,
and hundreds like them, put together is
fobbed off with a niggardly and scrappily
filled eight pages. There is really a serious
and indefensible bias against Thompson here ;
perhaps Mrs. Ward told Mr. Ward that, if
what he said in his introduction about Thomp-
son's opium-smoking was true, it would be
most subversive to give him a really good show.
The bias in favour of Phillips is less objection-
able ; the allocation of so much space to his
thin, pleasant music is probably the result of
one last kick on the part of Sir Sidney Colvin,
who has always had a weak spot for Phillips
and reconciles himself, with difficulty, to the
way in which his swan is drifting out of sight.
But imagine extracts from Marpessa, and the
iterative rhetoric about the Fireman, crowding
out The Poppy, To Viola, Her Portrait, and a
dozen others that one might mention. Finally,
in the matter of selection, I think that, if it
was desirable at all that Mr. C. L. Graves
should be given space for a selection from the
146



Ward's "English Poets"

humorous writers, he ought not to have been
confined in a space in which though he does
his best, he can hardly move. Calverley
who, after all, will be worth more to our
posterity than Richard Middleton might
as well have been omitted as presented so in-
effectively as he is here, and what is the use
of a selection from A. C. Hilton which has no
room for The Heathen Pas see ? W. S. Gilbert
is also very badly treated.

The short biographies must have been
very difficult things to do. It was no doubt
impossible, in the space, to avoid such odd
tabloid statements as " His father was an
official in the Bank of England, his mother of
Scottish and German origin " (Browning) ;
" His grandfather and father were tailors
(once prosperous) and his four aunts were
among the beauties of the town " (Meredith) ;
and " He was a distinguished bibliophile,
numismatist, and botanist, being a leading
authority on brambles " (de Tabley). But
the critical introductions are, as a rule, exceed-
ingly good. Mr. Woods is excellent on Brown-
ing ; Arnold, who wrote in 1880 the general
introduction to these volumes, is dealt with
by the editor, who says with justice : " While
of Dryden, of Wordsworth, of Byron, more
than half might well be spared, there is
scarcely anything in Arnold's volumes except
perhaps Balder Dead that has not a distinct

H7



Books in General

value of its own, scarcely anything that ought
not to be preserved." Tennyson was done
by the late Sir Richard Jebb, whose criticism,
though graceful, lacks the last touch of
subtlety. The essay on William Barnes is by
Mr. Thomas Hardy himself, who writes directly
and independently, as one would expect.
He defends Barnes's practice of putting com-
pound epithets and recondite sentiments (in
dialect) into the mouths of husbandmen
with an appeal to those " who differentiate
imaginative revelation from the blind tran-
scripts of a reporter's note-book " ; and he
justly says that behind Barnes's Dorset lan-
guage " was an academic poet, akin to the
school of Gray and Collins." " Barnes, behind
his word-screen," he concludes, " had a quality
of the great poets, a clear perception or instinct
that human emotion is the primary stuff of
poetry." Lord Crewe succeeds in the difficult
task of writing judiciously about his father,
Lord Houghton. Mr. John Bailey, writing
of Meredith, says : " He seems to have been
totally indifferent to the truth of that gener-
ally sound maxim with which Johnson rebuked
the critics of Pope's Homer , ' The purpose
of a writer is to be read.' ' Mr. Mackail on
Morris and Mr. Percy Lubbock on Christina
Rossetti are conspicuous ; and Mr. Gosse
is as sound here as elsewhere on Swinburne.
He writes with his usual delicious choice of
epithet and a vivacity, a relish, that one
148



Ward's 'English Poets "

wishes he could have communicated to some
of his collaborators. " He passed through
the years," says Mr. Gosse, " like the fabulous
Bird of Paradise, which never perched, because
it had no feet."

" To a degree unparalleled, he was cerebral
in all his forces. He was an unbodied in-
telligence hidden in the light of thought,'
showering a rain of melody from some altitude
untouched by the drawbacks and privileges
of mortality. Tennyson might have been a
farmer, Browning a stockbroker ; Rossetti
was a painter and Morris an upholsterer ;
but it is impossible to conceive Swinburne
as " taking up ' any species of useful employ-
ment. To our great good fortune, he was
possessed of what are called c moderate means,'
which happily clung to him, by no conscious
effort of his own, to the end of his days. He
was therefore able to spin out his dream and
his music without any species of material
disturbance, his only approaches to c action '
being the chimerical controversies, always
on aesthetic questions, in which he engaged
with mimic fury. These were to him what
golf is to other ageing men : they were a
form of health-preserving exercise."

If all the essays were up to this level the book
would serve as a prose-anthology as well as
an anthology of verse.

149



Books in General



The Papers That There Are

I AM one of those who can never help
reading any odd piece of printed paper
which comes into their hands accidentally.
For instance, odd sheets which shroud parcels
sent by booksellers or publishers ; fragments
found amid the seaweed, straw, wood, bottles
and corks on a beach ; and pieces impaled
by my stick when I am out walking. Such
a piece of jetsam came my way the other day.
I sent to the little shop at the corner for some
loose cigarettes. They came back wrapped
up in one page of a list sent out to newsagents
by Messrs. Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent
and Co., Ltd. (anglice Simpkins'), giving
information as to the days on which various
periodicals are obtainable. I began reading
it, and I read it all through, with ever-increas-
ing wonder.

The list, beginning quite regularly with
periodicals obtainable on Monday morning,
opened with Great Thoughts, truly an inspiring
start. I have seen that journal ; I associate
it with the Quiver and the Argosy, which latter,
I expect, is dead these many years. The
Light Car and Cycle Car and several others lead
to CasselPs New id. Magazine (which, most
grossly paradoxical, is 2d.), and this is followed
by:
150



The Papers That There Are

Christian Novels

Chums

Comic Cuts

Thirty-two in all are the Monday morning
papers. They include Girls' Mirror, Ladies'
Companion, Lot 0' Fun, Magnet, Picture Fun,
Smart Novels, Competitors' Journal and Young
Ladies' Journal. I looked at all these names
and meditated on the ignored continents
which were opening out before my gaze.
What is the Magnet and whom does it magnet-
ise ; what girls are reflected in that mirror,
and to what ladies is that a companion ?
Who writes for these journals ; what master-
pieces are buried in them ; what is their
political influence ; is it here that, in unsus-
pected ways, the real strength of the Coalition
is developed and exercised ? I had thought
myself fairly familiar with the periodical
Press, merely because I read Mr. Bottomley
weekly, have frequently perused the Pelican,
Sporting Life, the London Mail and the
National Review, and, when going a train
journey with children, invariably buy them
the Rainbow ; but the area of my knowledge
is nothing to the area of my ignorance.

Tuesday morning, for some occult reason,
is a great time for racing prints. The Expert,
the Judge, the Racing * Outlook, the Racing
World Special and Lotinga's Special all rush



Books in General

out neck and neck. With them is the Banner
of Israel, cheek by jowl with the Big Comic
and Sparks and the Butterfly. The Family
Herald Supplement, which many men joke
about without ever having seen it and with-
out being aware of its continued existence,
is another from Tuesday's stable, and it is
accompanied by several farming papers
e.g., Farm and Home Handy Stories, the
Marvel (a green production containing, I
assure you, highly remarkable school and
detective stories), the Mark Lane Express,
the Wonder and (these two come together)
the Times History of the War and Sif tings.
What are Sif tings 9 who are they ? I don't
know ; yet, for all I can say to the contrary,
in hundreds of thousands of British homes
the day on which Siftings appears is the
golden day of the week, and far into the
night father, in his armchair, reads the tit-
bits from it to the family until the flushed
children have long overpassed their bedtime.

Tuesday afternoon's list is short and some-
what grim. It runs :

Boxing ... ... ... ... 2d.

Bystander ... ... ... gd.

Casualty List 3d.net.

Punch 6d.

Sketch is.

Taller is.

152



The Papers That There Are

But there is another big batch on Wednesday
morning. Building News and Contract Journal
both, inexplicably, prefer that morning, so
does the Jewish World, so does a paper which
appears, it would seem, on two kinds of
paper and is catalogued as :

Life of Faith 2d.

(thin) 2d.

the latter edition, presumably, being meant,
if not for the backsliders, at least for the
weaker brethren. The Journal of Gaslighting
does not arouse in me the smallest flame, or
jet, of curiosity ; but I am slightly piqued by
the Gem and Hobbies. The National Food
Journal, being a most important institution,
follows in large capitals, and then we come
to Wednesday afternoon. It is ushered in
by:

Gentlewoman ... 6d.

(thin) 6d.

It appears a low \aluation, but Gentlewoman
(thin) is certainly the acme of meagreness ;
far thinner, to all who have any sense of the
flavour of words, than Lady (thin) would be.
The Mirror of Life and a few trade journals
bring us to that most prolific of periods,
Thursday morning. On Thursday morning
the adventurous newsagent can procure the
Encore, the Meat Trades Journal, the Per-

153



Books in General

former, the Prim. Methodist Leader (how apt
is that abbreviation !), the Christian, the
Cinema, Joyful News, the Tailor, the British
Bee Journal, Merry and Bright, the Morning
Star and Smart Fiction. What a list to whet
one's appetite ! But, alas ! it brought me
to the end of the sheet. What comes out on
Thursday afternoon, not to mention Friday
and Saturday, must remain unknown to me,
a question as dark as that of the song that
the Sirens sang or what dress the hero wore
when he lived amongst women. I should, had
that other page come, have made doubtless
more discoveries, and encountered more old
friends whom I had presumed long dead. It
may be that Leigh Hunt's Examiner is still
alive, that the Anti-Jacobin still flourishes in
some subterraneous way, that the Rambler
and even Mercurius Britannicus may still be
purchased, week by week, on Friday, or,

Eerchance, on Saturday. And I might at
ist have tracked down a paper I have been
looking for for years and that I am convinced
exists ; but I will not yet mention its name.



Stephen Reynolds

STEPHEN REYNOLDS'S death was a
direct result of his devotion to duty.
He insisted, when obviously risking
illness, on travelling up and down to town



The Romantic Generation

from Devonshire in the interests of the fishing
industry or rather (as he would have protested)
of the fishermen ; he got pneumonia and died.
Others, notably Mr. Cecil Harmsworth, have
already done justice to his work as a Govern-
ment servant and a pioneer of new methods
in fishery. In recent years he had subordin-
ated his writing to his official work, and the
success he made with A Poor Man's House,
The Holy Mountain, and his reflections of
working-class opinion about things in general
was not followed up. He was a short, sturdy
man who looked stronger than he was : fair,
spectacled, bronzed, moustached. He used
to come to London in a peaked cap, reefer
coat, a jersey and waterside boots, and his
concentration on fishermen's interests was so
great that if one had lunch with him, it had
to be in an all-fish restaurant. He seldom
bothered to condemn anybody, but many men
must have been warmed by his impulsive and
generous congratulations.



The Romantic Generation

AT no time have I felt a burning desire
to define the romantic and the classic.
After reading Professor F. E. Pierce's
Currents and Eddies in the English Romantic
Generation I am less inclined to do so, or
even to use the words when I can avoid them.

IS5



Books in General

Nevertheless, the English romantic generation,
however confused, complicated and self-contra-
dictory, existed ; and if Professor Pierce has
not been able to give a comprehensive defini-
tion of it he has at least managed to make a
picture of it in all its luxuriant diversity.
It included Rogers and Campbell, Byron,
Scott, Moore, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley,
Keats, Lamb, Hazlitt, Peacock and a hundred
minor people still remembered in their degrees.
They diSered in aim, and none has shown
more clearly than Professor Pierce the differ-
ences between the Cockney Eddy (I do not
thank thee for giving me that word), the
Holland House Eddy, the Scotch Eddy and
the Bristol Eddy, the variety of influences
that played upon them, and the variety of
exotic or antique colours that they deliberately
sought. Between them they ravaged the
world for styles and subjects ; and, if it be
said that the age (as some maintain) was a
hotch-potch), it can only be answered that
that is the habit of vigorous epochs in Eng-
land and that at least this hotch-potch was
different from any other. Professor Pierce
shows this. Conscious that the colour and
scent of an age may often be best seen in
minor people, he gives Mrs. Hemans, " L. E.
L." and even smaller fry their place. He
studies the greater authors in the light of
their affinities, demonstrates (and not the
most sentimental can upset his conclusions) how



The Romantic Generation

largely their environment and their inferiors
affected them, and groups them with some
approximation to scientific exactitude. His
analysis of the age (and he studies not only
books but popular taste as shown by sales) is
the best product I have yet seen of that
frequently barren detailed examination of
literature which is now being conducted on
so wholesale a scale by American professors
and candidates for the doctorate.

In the course of his history Professor Pierce
says a great many true and interesting things
about individuals. He says rightly that Leigh
Hunt had a " marvellously correct judgment "
of contemporary literature, and that no critic
has had fewer of his judgments reversed by
posterity. In discussing Coleridge he calls
attention to the poet's early nature-poetry,
which is almost entirely neglected, poetry
Wordsworthian, but often vivid in landscape
detail to a degree that Wordsworth did not
usually attempt. Most of it was direct remin-
iscence of the scenes of his childhood : Dykes
Campbell, I seem to remember, embodied
several long passages in his Life. Lamb,
says Professor Pierce, might have been a
great poet had circumstances been more
favourable. He argues convincingly that the
Lake School is an unfortunate misnomer ;
at Bristol there had been far more intercourse
and mutual criticism between its chief members

IS7



Books in General

than there was in the Lakes. He writes very
appreciatively of Southey, whose loss, he
says, would leave us all poorer, though he
describes him as " probably " (why not cer-
tainly ?) a man of talent trying to do the
work of a man of genius. He is pleasingly
transatlantic when he says of Hogg, who began
well, that " he did not know when to quit
fishing the empty pond," and he is at once
discerning and enthusiastic about Sir Walter
Scott :

" For a hundred and fifty years no other
man forced so many of his contemporaries to
read poetry that was at least reasonably
poetical. . . . The man was great and the
achievement no less so. ... There is an
instinct towards popularity which comes from
vanity and greed, and that is destructive to
literature. There is another instinct towards
popularity which arises from sympathy and
a desire for public service. That was the
attitude of Scott, and at bottom, while it
may not conduce to the most perfect art, it
was no ignoble mood and could result in
nothing but benefit to mankind."

Here and there one naturally meets something
one cannot quite accept. I think Professor
Pierce would find Joanna Baillie's poems, as
distinguished from her dramas, worth reading ;
and I wonder whether he was not hasty in



The Romantic Generation

saying that " the Hellenism of Shelley would
have proved a passing enthusiasm, that of
Keats a lasting faith," for Keats when he
died was certainly changing and growing.
But there are very few amongst his thousands
of criticisms that I at least should quarrel
with. His faults lie elsewhere. His industry
seems to have been exhausted by the collection
and survey of facts and the formation of
considered opinions ; he had no energy left,
it would seem, to express himself as well as
he could.

The writing of the book is strangely uneven.
Much of it is simple and straightforward
statement, lit up by an occasional full phrase
or witticism. The author is especially fond
of waggish misquotation. Addressing Lord
Byron, whom he considers to have the attrac-
tiveness of the volcano and the panther, he
cries : " Did he who made Charles Lamb
make thee ? " ; this is ingenious and amusing,
though not all the other adaptations come
off so well. Interspersed with the plain, the
witty and the eloquent pages are tracts of
the most dismal journalese. When a man
writes that " Bristol became the centre of a
literary vortex which rejuvenated English
poetry and made that erstwhile Philistine
region the Mecca of many a literary pilgrim,"
and adds that it was " the center of the
intellectual eddy, but by no means the dom-



Books in General

inant element in the atmosphere," experience
suggests that he will never make a sentence
that one will think good and never deliver
a judgment that one will consider acute and
original. But Professor Pierce oscillates be-
tween the dullest sham-picturesque English
and English pointed and terse ; following
immediately on the sentences quoted one
comes across phrases like that in which he
refers to Cottle's abandonment of his publish-
ing business : " he gave up the selling of
poetry for the uninterrupted composition of
it, thereby inflicting a double wound on the
Muses," which shows a vivacity one had
thought incompatible with the wholesale mix-
ture of stock metaphor. Wit is not perhaps
an essential part of good criticism, but it is
seldom one meets good criticism couched in
thoroughly second-rate English as one does
here. Had any other writer so run to death
these " eddies " and " tangents " and " circles"
as he does, he would have been one of the first to
laugh at him. I suppose stylistic lifelessness
is a peril that constantly threatens anyone
who compiles books on the scientific system
that I think Professor Pierce must have been
compelled to use. I cannot conceive that
this book has been made save with the help
of many reference-hunting and classifying
assistants, charts, diagrams, literary maps and
card-indexes. If those have been the means,
however, the result thoroughly justifies their
1 60



Edward Thomas

employment. For all his attempt at dis-
covering what, by the collection and sorting
of miscellaneous " literary facts," may be
discovered, Professor Pierce never loses sight


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