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North purity or simplicity of diction, if at pula- any cost of either they can win a spe
reli- cial attention to themselves ? Now, all, it the great body of women are under no & set. such unhappy bias. If they happen er in. to move in polished circles, or have ose of received a tolerable education, they sities, will speak their native language of E em- necessity with truth and simplicity. avage And supposing them not to be profes.
their sional writers, (as so small a propor ed by tion can be, even in France or Eng. press- land, there is always something in the ature, situation of women which secures a wing fidelity to the idiom. From the greate a tale er excitability of females, and the ated. superior vivacity of their feelings, medi they will be liable to far more irritane in tions from wounded sensibilities. It k the is for such occasions chiefly that they ettlers seek to be effective in their language. - sur. Now, there is not in the world so isand certain a guarantee for pure idiomatic
were diction, without tricks or affectation, ellow as
a case of genuine excitement.
Real situations are always pledges of inted a real natural language. It is in “re- counterfeit passion, in the mimical Dods. situations of novels, or in poems that in to are efforts of ingenuity, and no mas- ebullitions of absolute unsimulated re is feeling, that female writers endeavour
too to sustain their own jaded sensibility, that, or to reinforce the languishing interfrom est of their readers by extravagances - the of language. No woman in this world, too under a movement of resentment from
a false accusation, or from jealousy, or mes, from confidence betrayed, ever was at
lan- leisure to practise vagaries of caprice veen in the management of her mother -of tongue; strength of real feeling shuts per out all temptation to the affectation Fious of false feeling. Gtion Hence the purity of the female Byvays zantine Greek. Such caprices as they lan. had took some other course, and found who some other vent than through their the mother tongue. Hence, also, the puthe rity of female English. Would you Erere desire at this day to read our noble
dis- language in its native beauty, pictuFon. resque from idiomatic propriety, racy ugh in its phraseology, delicate yet sinewy urn in its composition-steal the mail eks bags, and break open all the letters in ear female handwriting. Three out of four for will have been written by that class of
women who have the most leisure and it is remarkable that the sa the most interest in a correspondence cling to the ancient purity by the post-that class who combine amongst ourselves who d more of intelligence, cultivation, and pagan Rome-viz., women of thoughtfulness, than any other in reasons just noticed, and Europe-the class of unmarried wo. rank. So much has this men above twenty-five-an increasing tendency in England, that class ; * women who, from mere dig, a person of great powers, bu nity of character, have renounced all in all things a one-sided tas prospects of conjugal and parental so much a lover of idiomatic life, rather than descend into habits as to endure none else, who unsuitable to their birth. Women to read no writer since L capable of such sacrifices, and marked terfield. It is certain that by such strength of mind, may be complished nobleman, who expected to think with deep feeling, most unjustly treated from and to express themselves (unless tunate collision with a nation where they have been too much bias- ite, and in part also from ed by bookish connexions) with natu- of his moral principles, wh ral grace. Not impossibly these same ever, he spoke worse than he women, if required to come forward in wrote with the ease and care some public character, might write ill of a high-bred gentleman. and affectedly. They would then style is not peculiar : it ha have their free natural movement of been the style of his order thought distorted into some accommo making the proper allowan dation to artificial standards, amongst continual new infusions which they might happen to select a peerage from the bookish bad one for imitation. But in their lawyers, and for some mo letters they write under the benefit of derived from the learned cl their natural advantages ; not warped, ritual peers, the tone of L on the one hand, into that constraint terfield has always been th or awkwardness which is the inevi. our old aristocracy ; a tor table effect of conscious exposure to gance and propriety, above public gaze; yet, on the other, not free from the stiffness of pe left to vacancy or the chills of apathy, academic rigour, and obeyin but sustained by some deep sympathy rule of shunning tanquane between themselves and their corre. any insolens verbum. It i spondents.
through this channel that So far as concerns idiomatic Eng. tudes of our British nob lish, we are satisfied, from the many always flowed : other quali beautiful female letters which we have come and go according to heard upon chance occasions from rament of the individual ; every quarter of the empire, that they, in all generations constitute the educated women of Great Britain of horror for that class, w above all, the interesting class of women precision and professional p unmarried upon scruples of sexual From the free popular fo honour-and also (as in Constanti- great public schools, to nople of old) the nurseries of Great out of ten amongst our o Britain, are the true and best deposi- resorted, it happened unavo taries of the old mother idiom. But they were not equally clear we must not forget, that though this vulgarities ; indeed, fror is another term for what is good in cause, that could not } English, when we are talking of a avoided-for it is remarka human and a popular interest, there connexion, as close as thro is a separate use of the language, as bilical cord, has always ! in the higher forms of history or tained between the very hig philosophy, which ought not to be of our aristocracy and the idiomatic. As respects that which is, our democracy, by means
* An increasing class ; but not in France. It is a most remarkable moral in the social condition of that nation, and one which speaks a volume as tone of female dignity, that unmarried women, at the age which amongst u insulting name of old maids, are almost unknown. Wbat shocking sacrif honour does this one fact argue ?
• Yankee," in the American use, does not mean a
to a foreigner, but a citizen of the Northern Connecticut, &c.) opposed to a Virginian, a Keo
The nurses and immediate personal in newspapers that we must look for attendants of all classes come from the the main reading of this generation ; same sources, most commonly from and in newspapers, therefore, we must the peasantry of the land ; they im- seek for the causes operating upon the. port into all families alike, into the style of the age. Seventy years ago highest and the lowest, the coarsest this tendency in political journals to expressions from the vernacular lan- usurp upon the practice of books, and guage of anger andcontempt. Whence, to mould the style of writers, was pofor example, it was, that about five or ticed by a most acute observer, himself six years ago, when a new novel circu- one of the most brilliant writers in the lated in London, with a private under. class of satiric sketchers and personal standing that it was a juvenile effort historians that any nation has profrom two very young ladies of the duced. Already, before 1770, the late very highest rank, nobody who re Lord Orford was in the habit of say. flected at all could feel much surprise ing to any man who consulted him on that one of the characters should ex. the cultivation of style" Style is it press her self-esteem by the popular that you want? Oh, go and look phrase that she did not “ think small into the newspapers for a style." This beer of herself.” Equally in its faults. was said half contemptuously and half and its merits, the language of high seriously. But the evil has now become life has always tended to simplicity overwhelming. One single number and the vernacular ideal, recoiling from of a London morning paper, which in every mode of bookishness. And in half a century has expanded from the this, as in so many other instances, it size of a dinner napkin to that of a is singular to note the close resem. breakfast tablecloth, from that to a blance between polished England and carpet, and will soon be forced, by the polished Rome. Augustus Cæsar was expansions of public business, into so little able to enter into any artificial something resembling the mainsail of forms or tortuous obscurities of ambia a frigate, already is equal in printed tious rhetoric, that he could not so much matter to a very large octavo volume. as understand them. Even the old Every old woman in the nation now antique forms of language, where it reads daily a vast miscellany in one happened that they had become ob- vol. royal octavo. The evil of this, solete, were to him disgusting. And as regards the quality of knowledge probably the main bond of connexion communicated, admits of no remedy. between himself and Horace was their Public business, in its whole unwieldy common and excessive batred of obe compass, must always form the subject scurity ; from which quality, indeed, of these daily chronicles. Nor is there the very intellectual defects of both, much room to expect any change in equally with their good taste, alienated the style. The evil effect of this upon them to intensity.
the style of the age may be reduced to The pure racy idiom of colloquial or two forms. Formerly the natural household English, we have insisted, impulse of every man was, spontamust be looked for in the circles of neously to use the language of life ; well-educated women ạot too closely the language of books was a secondary connected with books. It is certain attainment not made without effort. that books, in any language, will tend Now, on the contrary, the daily comto encourage a diction too remote from posers of newspapers have so long dealt the style of spoken idiom; whilst the in the professional idiom of books, as to greater solemnity, and the more cere have brought it home to every reader monial costume of regular literature in the nation who does not violently must often demand such a non-idioma- resist it by some domestic advantages. ticdiction, upon mere principles of good Time was, within our own rememtaste. But why is it that in our day brance, that if you should have heard, literature has taken so determinate a in passing along the street, from any swing towards this professional lan- old apple-woman such a phrase as “ I guage of books, as to justify some will avail myself of your kindness," fears that the other extreme of the forthwith you would have shied like free colloquial idiom will perish as a a skittish horse--you would have run living dialect ? The apparent cause away in as much terror as any old Rolies in a phenomenon of modern life, man upon those occasions when Bos which, on other accounts also, is en loquebatur. At present youswallow such titled to anxious consideration. It is marvels as matters of course. The
onal in newspapers that we must look for
the the main reading of this generation ; rom and in newspapers, therefore, we must im seek for the causes operating upon the
the style of the age. Seventy years ago sest this tendency in political journals to lan. usurp upon the practice of books, and nce, to mould the style of writers, was no. e or ticed by a most acute observer, himself
one of the most brilliant writers in the der. class of satiric sketchers and personal fort historians that any nation has prothe duced. Already, before 1770, the late
re Lord Orford was in the habit of say. rise ing to any man who consulted him on
the cultivation of style" Style is it ular that you want? Oh, go and look mall into the newspapers for a style." This ults. was said half contemptuously and half high seriously. But the evil has now become city overwhelming. One single number rom of a London morning paper, which in
in half a century has expanded from the s, it size of a dinner papkin to that of a em. breakfast tablecloth, from that to a and carpet, and will soon be forced, by the was expansions of public business, into cial something resembling the mainsail of mbim a frigate, already is equal in printed uch matter to a very large octavo volume. old Every old woman in the nation now e it reads daily a vast miscellany in one ob. vol. royal octavo. The evil of this, And as regards the quality of knowledge kion communicated, admits of no remedy. heir Public business, in its whole unwieldy
ob- compass, must always form the subject zed, of these daily chronicles. Nor is there oth, much room to expect any change in ated the style. The evil effect of this upon
the style of the age may be reduced to
two forms. Formerly the natural ted, impulse of every man was, sponta
of neously to use the language of life ; sely the language of books was a secondary Lain attainment not made without effort. end Now, on the contrary, the daily com
posers of newspapers have so long dealt the in the professional idiom of books, as to
have brought it home to every reader in the nation who does not violently
resist it by some domestic advantages. pod Time was, within our own rememday brance, that if you should have heard,
in passing along the street, from any an- old apple-woman such a phrase as “ Í
will avail myself of your kindness," che forthwith you would have shied like
a skittish horse-you would have run
whole artificial dialect of books bas Some eight years ago, we h
our instincts, round we
away in as much terror as any old Ro. fe,
man upon those occasions when Bos De loquebatur. At present youswallow such is marvels as matters of course. The
such a word was this : From the stair tematic counteraction applied to the case window we saw a large shed in mischief. But the great evil in such the rear of the house : apprehending cases is this—that we cannot see the some nuisance of “ manufacturing extent of the changes wrought or beindustry ' in our neighbourhood, ing wrought, from having ourselves
" What's that?” we demanded. partaken in them. Tempora mutan. Mark the answer: “ A shed ; and tur; and naturally, if we could review anteriorly to the existing shed there them with the neutral eye of a stranger, was ;" what there was, posterity it would be impossible for us not to must consent to have wrapt up in see the extent of those changes. But darkness, for there came on our ner our eye is not neutral : we also have vous seizure, which intercepted fur- partaken in the changes ; et nos muther communication. But observe, tamur in illis. And this fact disturbs as a point which took away any gleam the power of appreciating those of consolation from the case, the total changes. Every one of us would absence of all malaprop picturesque have felt, sixty years ago, that the ness, that might have defeated its general tone and colouring of a style deadly action upon the nervous sys- was stiff, bookish, pedantic, which, tem. No: it is due to the integrity from the habituation of our organs, we of her disease, and to the complete. now feel to be natural and within the ness of our suffering, that we should privilege of learned art. Direct ob. attest the unimpeachable correctness jective qualities it is always by com. of her words and of the syntax by parison easy to measure; but the dif. which she connected them.
ficulty commences when we have to Now, if we could suppose the case combine with this outer measurement that the old household idiom of the of the object another corresponding land were generally so extinguished measurement of the subjective orinner amongst us as it was in this particular qualities by which we apply the mea. instance—if we could imagine, as a sure ; that is, when besides the ob. universal result of journalism, that a jects projected to a distance from the coarse unlettered woman, having oc- spectator, we have to allow for variacasion to say, “ this or that stood in tions or disturbances in the very eye such a place before the present shed,” which surveys them. The eye cannot should take as a natural or current see itself; we cannot project from ourformula, “ anteriorly to the existing selves, and contemplate as an object shed there stood, &c.”—what would our own contemplating faculty, or ap. be the final effect upon our literature ? preciate our own appreciating power. Pedantry, though it were unconscious Biases, therefore, or gradual warppedantry, once steadily diffused ings, that have occurred in our critical through a nation as to the very faculty as applied to style, we cannot moulds of its thinking, and the general allow for; and these biases will un. tendencies of its expression, could not consciously mask, to our perceptions, but stiffen the natural graces of com. an amount of change in the quality of position, and weave fetters about the popular style such as we could not free movement of human thought. easily credit. This would interfere as effectually Separately from this change for the with our power of enjoying much that worse in the drooping idiomatic freshis excellent in our past literature, as ness of our diction, which is a change it would with our future powers of that has been going on for a century, producing. And such an agency has the other characteristic defect of this been too long at work amongst us, age lies in the tumid and tumultuary not to have already accomplished some structure of our sentences. The one part of these separate evils. Amongst change has partly grown out of the women of education, as we have ar- other. Ever since a more bookish gued above, standing aloof from liter air was impressed upon composition ature, and less uniformly drawing without much effort by the Latinized their intellectual sustenance from and artificial phraseology, by forms of newspapers, the deadening effects have expression consecrated to books, and been partially counteracted. Here by “long-tailed words in osity and and there, amongst individuals, alive ation," either because writers felt that to the particular evils of the age, and already, in this one act of preference watching the very set of the current, shown to the artificial vocabulary, they there may have been even a more sys. had done enough to establish a differ
stair- tematic counteraction applied to the ned in mischief. But the great evil in such
nding cases is this—that we cannot see the curing extent of the changes wrought or be-hood, ing wrought from having ourselves nded. partaken in them. Tempora mutan; and tur; and naturally, if we could review there them with the neutral eyeof a stranger, terity it would be impossible for us not to ap in see the extent of those changes. But - ncr our eye is not neutral: we also have
fur- partaken in the changes ; et nos mu. serve, tamur in illis. And this fact disturbs leam the power of appreciating those
total changes. Every one of us would -sque have felt, sixty years ago, that the dits general tone and colouring of a style
was stiff, bookish, pedantic, whicb, grity from the habituation of our organs, we olete. now feel to be natural and within the hould privilege of learned art. Direct obtness jective qualities it is always by com x by parison easy to measure; but the dif
ficulty commences when we have to
combine with this outer measurement f the of the object another corresponding Eshed measurement of the subjective or inner cular qualities by which we apply the mea
sure; that is, when besides the ob nat a jects projected to a distance from the oc- spectator, we have to allow for variaOd in tions or disturbances in the very eye bed,” which surveys them. The eye cannot rrent see itself; we cannot project from oursting selves, and contemplate as an object could our own contemplating faculty, or apure ? preciate our own appreciating power. cious Biases, therefore, or gradual warpFused ings, that have occurred in our critical
very faculty as applied to style, we cannot neral allow for; and these biases will unI not consciously mask, to our perceptions,
an amount of change in the quality of the popular style such as we could not ght. easily credit.
Separately from this change for the that worse in the drooping idiomatic freshP, as ness of our diction, which is a change s of that has been going on for a century, has the other characteristic defect of this us,
age lies in the tumid and tumultuary
structure of our sentences. The one ogst change has partly grown out of the
ar- other. Ever since a more bookish ter- air was impressed upon composition ing without much effort by the Latinized
and artificial phraseology, by forms of ave expression consecrated to books, and ere by “long-tailed words in osity and live ation," either because writers felt that and already, in this one act of preference ent, shown to the artificial vocabulary, they
ential character of regular composi- of style which in English bo tion, and on that consideration thought but universal, absolutely ha themselves entitled to neglect the com-. existence in the French. bination of their words into sentences rigorously and to the very
let and periods; or because there is a case, we, upon a large expe real natural sympathy between the French literature, affirm, that Latin phraseology and a Latin struc- be nearly impossible (perhap ture of sentence; certain it is and re so) to cite an instance of that markable, that our popular style, in and unwieldy style which the common limited sense of arrange. English composition so ext ment applied to words, or the syn. Enough could not be adduced taxes of sentences, has laboured with the purpose of illustration. two faults that might have been make a Frenchman sensible of thought incompatible : it has been ar as a possibility, you must a tificial, by artifices peculiarly adapted some translated model. to the powers of the Latin language, But why? The cause of and yet at the very same time careless tional immunity from a fault and disordinate. There is a strong mon every where else, and so idea expressed by the Latin word in when we look into the prodi conditus, disorganized, or rather unor casions, is as much entitled to ganized. Now, in spite of its artifi. tice as the immunity itself. cial bias, that is the very epithet which is inevitable, as one might will best characterise our newspaper
two conditions of mind-hur style. To be viewed as susceptible first place, want of art in th of organization, such periods must al The French must be liable ready be elaborate and artificial; to disadvantages as much as the be viewed as not having received it, bours : by what magic is it such periods must be careless.
evade them or neutralize the But perhaps the very best illustra result? The secret lies here tion of all this will be found in putting all nations, by constitutional the case of English style into close the French are a nation of tal juxtaposition with the style of the the model of their sentences i French and Germaps our only very by that fact. Conversation, important neighbours. As leaders of a luxury for other nations, is civilisation, as powers in an intellec a necessity : by the very law tual sense, there are but three na- peculiar intellect and of tions in Europe-England, Germany, training, they are colloquial France. As to Spain and Italy, out- it happens, that there are lying extremities, they are not moving people endured or ever he bodies; they rest upon the past. France as alloquial wits ; pe Russia and North America are the talk to but not with a circle two bulwarks of Christendom-East finest of their beaux esprits and west. But the three powers at mit to the equities of convers the centre are in all senses the motive would be crushed summaril forces of civilisation. In all things sters, if they were to seek they have the initiation; and they pre- mode of display, or a privile side.
turing any audience of a By this comparison we shall have the had met for purposes of socia advantage of doing what the French “De monologue," as Madam express by s'orienter—the Germans by in her broken English, des sich orientiren. Learning one of our mode of display when sp bearings on the compass, we shall be Coleridge, is so far from bein able to deduce the rest ; and we shall in France as an accomplish be able to conjecture our valuation as it is not even understood as respects the art, by finding our place This kind of what may be amongst the artists.
sponsible talk, when a ma With respect to French style, we perpetuo tenore, not accou can imagine the astonishment of an any opinion to his auditors, English author, practised in composicontradiction, has sometime tion, and with no previous knowledge for a man in England th of French literature, who should first River to his name : Labitur find himself ranging freely amongst a
in omne volubilis ævum. BE French library. That particular fault been in cases where the ta
had done enough to establish a differ