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3 corrections, most recently by peter-macinnis - Show corrections

Stenograms.

BY ALLEGRO.

New things necessitate new words, and there is quite a lively competition going on among English word-coiners for the honour of introducing the verb which is to indicate progression

by means of conveyances set in motion by elec tricity. The verb "to ride" is already ridden to death. We have pressed it into the service of almost every kind of locomotion, and now that we are likely to travel in a totally new style it is time to give " ride" a rest and try some other word. As I find that no less than 140 suggested words have been sent to the Times newspaper, it is evident that there is no need of fresh competitors. Certainly it is not my in- tention to ru3h into the fray. All I want to do in connection with the matter is to draw at tention to a guiding principle of selection which might possibly be overlooked when the final choice is being made. That principle is simply this, Don't give the local poet a chance. If the choice happens to fall upon a word that offers inviting facilities for rhyme, why, we shall be inundated for months and years with rhymed effusions bearing upon the electric joumeyings of amorous couples! The two favourite verbs, I observe, are to "mote" and to " scoon." If one of these is chosen, what itching poetaster could refrain from taking down his lyre at once and singing thereto about how he and she dote upon each other as they "mote" when afloat in their electric boat?—or could refrain from telling how they spoon as they " scoon" by the light of the moon, till the world would get sick of the wearisome tune? Alas, on looking over the whole 140 verbs I find only one that would block the effusive rhymester, but on that sole ground I give it my vote. It is a Hindustani —"bijling." Try that, my minstrel! You may try it all your days, and not get your very best girl to "bijling" in rhyme. I am quite ready to confess that "bijlinging" is a very awkward process, judged by its sound, but in the light of the consequences of "moting" and " scooning" it is just the very thing.

When the wrong man is prayed for, does the right man get the benefit of it ? This is a theological difficulty which has been bothering my brain ever since I heard of the following in cident whioh occurred in this town a short time ago. I do not vouch for the absolute accuracy of all the details, but I know that the

main features of the story had their actual counterparts in fact. It was at a great turn out of the Salvation Army, which had rolled up in force to celebrate the anniversary of the inauguration of some new branch of their business. There were many strangers present lending their countenance and giving of their ooinage in support of the good cause, and letters containing apolo- gies and subscriptions from numerous other strangers were read out to the meeting. Among the letters was one which contained a donation of no less than ten guineas, and loud were the hosannas elicited by the announce- ment of this instance of liberality. But grati- tude must have an object, and the object must have a name, and the trouble in this case was that the name of the generous donor was ex- tremely difficult to decipher. It was found out at last to be Peterson, and for a time the absent Peterson was the hero of the evening. It was not enough to hallelujah on his account. Peterson must be prayed for. Supplication was offered up that Peterson's zeal for the spread of righteousness should be rewarded, that Peter- son might continue to be a burning and a shining light, and that his daily business, what ever it was that thus furnished him with the meansof promoting temperance and godlyliving, might greatly prosper in his hands. Just, how- ever, when the prayer was ended, and when it was too late to begin the whole thing over again someone on the platform, who was more of an expert in writing than his fellows, discovered that the signature was not "Peterson," but "P. Perkins." Now, what I want to know is, will "P. Perkins" come in for the blessings, the claim for which was entered in the name of "Peterson." I have consulted various theological works with a view to the elucidation of the point, but can get no help from them. The contingency, apparently, has not been pro- vided for.

Australia, we are sometimes told, has no literature of its own. It has authors, no doubt, but their productions are merely echoes of the literature of England or America. Perhaps our critics are right. Perhaps, on the other hand, they look for our indigenous literature in the wrong place. If they want to see it in all its pure autochthonousness they should go, not to our books, but to our letters. Let them go, for instance, to the letters of Mr. James Bloomer, and then let them say whether we are merely echoes. Take, for instance, that letter of Mr. Bloomer's which was read the other day in the Police Court at Gympie. When Mr. Bloomer says, " I need not tell you to keep mum about the dish, as I know you will not put yourself away, but smother it in a riebuck plotch," I should like to know of what British author that is an echo ? " Dear Jack, I was very glad to hear that you coropeled on that dish"—does that remind you of Macaulay, or Chesterfield, or Cardinal Newman? "If you ride Greyhound in the shine, squittle him square"—to what English stylist would our almighty fine critics trace that ? "Nock off   the tid"—from what standard moralist of the mother-land was this epigrammatic succinct- ness stolen? "Be cobbers till I come back"— is that but a result of foreign culture ? If Australian Police Courts would only go on exhuming such specimens as this they would soon redeem our united country from the charge of having no literature of our own. " Coro- peling a dish" is of itself enough on which to found an original claim.

For one reason only would I like to be one of the young men of the future. I do not envy them any of the advantages they will derive from living in a condition of things in which there will be no possibility of overwork and no incentive to hardship, and in which amusement will be provided as a matter of oourse. Still, I should like to live my youth over again in the sweet by-and-bye that is going to come so very soon for the sake of one advantage that will by that time be a matter of common enjoyment. The invention which represents this advantage, and which will then be in full swing, is already patented. In virtue of this contrivance the leaves of the music of the future will be turned over by mechanical arrangement. By pressing a knob in the front of the key-board of a piano, a radial arm turns over the leaf when wanted. It sounds very simple and insignificant, doesn't it ?—but, oh, what a world of misery it would have saved if this apparatus had been invented fifty years ago! Did any young fellow—I leave out the old ones; it doesn't matter about them— did any young fellow ever get up to turn over the music for a lady player without feeling conscious that no grace of demeanour or attraction of physical form could suffice to render otherwise than idiotic the peculiar attitudes required for the performance of that trying duty ? Who doesn't remember how he felt when he turned over before the turn-over was due? Who doesn't remember the self-contempt under which he writhed when the player stopped and turned the leaf for herself, he the while stooping fecklessly over her with the craning curve that is at once expressive of shortsightedness and ineptitude ? Those were fearful times, boys, and though the young men of 1990 will be slow-blooded, State- coddled, volitionless products of social regi- mentation, and not to be compared with the rollocking, suffering, restive wildings of a day that is dead, I should dearly like to know by experience, as they will, what it is like to pass through youth and young manhood without any music to turn over.

Although fish are mentioned first in the list of living creatures over which man is given dominion, they are certainly the last over which we are at all likely to obtain thorough control. Even the fowls of the air meet us half way, on our own element, and give us the chance of domesticating whole classes of them. But the fish can no man tame, and even if he could, wherewithal would he be advantaged? You can't even make pets of them—it is philo- logically, as well as ichthyologically, impossible. To "pet" is to take into your bosom—into your   petto —but the only way you can admit a fish into your bosom, with comfort, is down your gullet. It is the mention in the papers that the Bay at Sandgate is swarming with sharks that has suggested this fishy train of thought. At this late age of the world we have no more dominion over the fish of the sea—no more power of protecting the weak against the strong, the mild against the fierce— than in the days when they were made over to the jurisdiction of Adam. I see it is suggested, by way I suppose of introducing some system of discipline, that a bounty should be offered for every shark caught. The shark is the ruth- less pirate of the deep. So long as he goes "ruining along the limitless" ocean, our dominion over the inhabitants of the main is a mere imposture. It is a good thing to begin with him, and to apply the resources of civili- sation to his case in the shape of a bonus is not a bad suggestion. But unfortunately bonuses, or boni (which is it ?) are not in favour just now. If we could manage to get the thing without the name, we would be nearer the solu- tion of how to do it. Could we not contrive to press into our service in this connection the prevailing horror of fresh taxation ? Time was when wolves' heads were accepted in lieu of taxes. When the certain-to-come impost is laid upon us, why not arrange that in the case of individuals bo disposed, the land tax, income tax, or whatever other horrible form it may assume, will be remitted for its equivalent in dharks ? I guess it would soon be as safe to bathe in Bramble Bay as in the family wash tub.

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