No corrections yet
ON AUTHOBSAND BOOKS. —Australia's 'Ltterarv Promise.—
Mr. Albert Dorriugton said something in London recently about AustraUan lite rature. 'You cannot call it a literature at present. There is. however, a distinct
promise of an AustraUan literature, al though for myself I do not see things large and big to write about there. There has been no history behind Australia, no na tional tragedies, no bloodshed. ... So far, Australian literature has been a graft of English literature. Take Marcus Clarke'? writings as a type, and even, in a way. Lindray Gordon's, although, there is much more of the native Australian in nun. Stories like Kolf Boldrewood's 'Bobbery under Arms' are incidental, not the begin. Rings, of a great AustraUan literature, which. 1 take it, must be based on tbe origins and rise of a country. It must get at the roots of a nation, at the springs of its existence, and it has .gradually to grow as that nation itself crown. As yet Aus tralia has. perhaps, done best in poetry; 3 mean that the real, characteristic Aus tralia lias best found its expression in verse, which is natural, because national feeling goes out first iu song. Certainly there is a sure touch of the AustraUan country in the young poets of Australia, the scent of the eucalyptus. And we have Australian humorists; but the poetry, the fiction, even the humour, of Australia must all, as it seems to me, have a' gloomy tinge. .. . . But perhaps, when Australia gets more fully popu lated, it will have - more variety of colour, and its gaunt sand-hummocks will seem lem gaunt and saddening. The New Zcalander it different. He is too beefy to write, too comfortable with his rosy cheeks, as compared with the gaunt man of the Australian plains. It is the man whose soul has been blistered by tbe sun and tortured by -the arid bush who comes along with a bit of literary fire in his pocket—a story or a poem fchining like a bit of opal. No; the milk-and-water New Zedander is not for literature yet, any how, and when his time comes it will Dro bablv be on different Hnes from those which we see shaping in Australian litera ture—a joke flung against a tragedy.' —More Misquotations.— Rev. Professor Skeat (Cambridge) writes to T. P.'s Weeldy:-'May I be allowed to point out an error in the list of 'Misquo tations noted in your July 12 number? It was there stated that the well-known phrase, 'spare the rod and spoil the child,' does not ap)-cnr in the Bible at all. This singular statement wot* published years ago in. Tlie illustrated London News by Mr. G. A. Sala; and I then took the op portunity of iroiuting out that this is a mere quibble, an the nentintent expressed is certainly there, though the authorized version does not use the word 'spoil,' but 'bate.' In Proverbs, xiii. 24. the words are:— 'He that spareth the rod hatcth h« son/ WycUFs version lias almost the very same words, vid.:— 'He tliat xparitli the verdc (rod) halith his sone.' It is also to lie noticed tliat this was a familiar text iu the time of Richard II., ok in the oltF jkh-'di of 'Piers, the Plowman,' second ver sion; canto v., 1. 39, we find:— And Salamnn roiile tlie name, that Sapience made, Qui parcit virjri, odir Slium. Hie Ei*. of this Utin i*. whoo wll it kaowe. Wtmm »par«U the npn-nse, jojilleth Ms chil dren. The expression 'spilleth'— i.e., destroys— is much «u|-erior to '^Mjilclh.' it is only too true: we Iinve ceased to use the rod. aud the result is the modern hooligan.' Ano ther correspondent write*:— Your contri butor rays:—' 'Sidney Smith is quoted as saying that it requires a surgical o]-eration to make a Scotsman understand a joke,' aud that 'he never said anvtlung of the kind.' If, however, he will consult the menioir of the Rev. Sydney Smith, by his daughter, he may read, in the second chap ter, that Smith used to my:— 'It requires a surgical o|-eration to get a joke well into a Scotch understanding.' One of your correspondents, in the same issue, objects to your crediting Solon with saying, 'Call no man happy before his death,' which he thinks is evidently a slip of the pen, or memory, of the writer. Herodotus tells tw that Solon said to Croeww, 'Call no man liappy tiU you know the nature of his death;' and Larcher tells us in his notes that the lines of Sophocles, at the conclu sion of 'Oedipus Tyrannus.' conveying the Ktmc sentiments, seem to ht a paraphrase of the words of Herodotu*.' ? —A- Cecil Rhodes Biography.— The Rhodes trustees. have selected one of their number, Sir Lewis Michel], to col lect material for a biography of Cecil Rhodes. Sir Lewis Michell may fairly be called a great banker nnd a great adminis trator, though no one perhaps would regard him as a great noNtteian. ?' He knew Mr. Rhodes intimately in many, capacities, and he belongs to the .more moderate section of the party with which Mr. Rhodes was identified. —Fiction verous 'Serious Books.''— Several interesting reports have been go ing the round of the press (says The Lou don Publisher and Bookseller) regarding the relative number of readers in the pub lie libraries for fiction and for wnat are called serious books, and most librarians of free libraries have given statistics that go tp' show that the consumption of fiction is enormously in advance of thnt of any other type of literary work. To supplement these figures The Daily Mail has been rank ing investigations of its own. 'In the first place,' it rays, -'there have to be add ed to the readers of 'serious' books the en tfre number of students in the reading room of the British Museum, where, al though an immense amount of reading goes forward, practically no fiction is taken out at all. At tbo ix-ndon Library aim the preponderance of serious literature over fic tion is considerable. The subscription lib. rarics, however, once more redress the ba lance in iavour of fiction.' Tlie result of enquiries from London l-ookreucrs and pub lishers is that 'among renders who nav for their reading the demand for fiction m in creasing, whereas, according- to the libra rians of free libraries, the demand for se rious books is encouragingly on the rise.'
—Mr. William Le Qucux.— Our London correspondent wrote on July 2$:— Mr. William Le Queux. the well known author, apcarcd this week in the' Di vorce Courts as the respondent in an unde fended petition by his wife, an Italian lady, for restitution of conjugal rights. The evi dence showed tlutt Mr. Le Queux's mar riage took place in 1002 at the Kensington Registry Office, and that after living with his wife in London for two years the res pondent arranged that Mr*. Le Qucux should go to Florence, promising to join her there. ' He did so, but left her finally a'few days later on the pretext thnt he had 16 go away in connection with literary work. Since then in answer to her letters entreating him to return he wrote comphin. ing of her extravagance, and proposed a separation. To this Mrs. Le Queux refus c4[ to assent. Counsel for Mr. Le Qucux sajd he wax not in a position to oppose the petition, and wouhl make a substantial al lowance for his wife, but the Judge grant ed the desired decree, the order to be com l»Jicd with within 14 days. ' — Pickwick Redivivu*.— 'Unique among exhibitions (wrote our London correspondent on July 23) wax tliat which Mr. T. P. OXVmnor on Mon day opened at the New Dudley (iallcrv uriilcT the auspices of the Dickens Vcilovr fil-i;»— the Pickwick Exhibition— which cole bnittil the wvcnticlh anniversary of the completion of this immortal worh. Thr sHnw included n wealth of literature and objects of cognate interest. There was a t-£rl-nil of the author at the ;igc of 24. \yjicn lie unostentatiously fogan to write tit* original ' crceh-covcred monthly num bers of -'Pickwick' round peme sketches by. Seymour which Messrs. Chapman and LTall had lying bv. and wished to turn to account In addition to contemporary relics of Dickens himself, there was a mis cellaneous but marvellous collection of objects illustrating the source* of the topi cal allusions 'in Pickwick.' euch as tbe original 'Mooes Pickwick' carrier's bill that sueaested the name to Dickens, and* the 'Bill Stumps H» Mark' stone, which Mr. Pickwick persisted in regarding as an aElimmrian find of the greatest value. How popular the book was even before its young author was known was shorn by a repre wntative collection of the contemporary snuibs and scrnn sheets which its appear ance evoked. These are in odd contrast to modern 'Pickwick' souvenirs from such mil-of-the-way places as Durban (where n Pickwick Club was recently founded). All the features of the exhibition combined to show not only how faithfully the book reflected the life of 70 yean ago. but nlso how its swrit nnd its phraseology still live id. our nationality and our language. ;? —A Merriman Story.— It is related of the late Hcnrv Seton Merriman that, being -considered delicate, he- remained much'* at- home,, absorbed in. liUrary studies, while his brotiier went daily to the city. His father, feeh'ng that itVwas unjust that the one should be. always at work while tbe other was stav ing away, under the excuse that he was
writing books (but, apparently, as none was published,, he was simply fnVolb'ngat literature), spoke .to himabout it one even in*, on his Veturn from business. He ranted to know when he waa going to d' op this literary folly and join his brother it the office, for be never seemed to make headway with literature. 'Now, if you cculd produce a book like this,'- holding up -''The- Sowers.' whieh be had purchased at a bookseller's, 'you might call yourself a writer.' Even then the young man did not make himself known as the author, but went on still steadily working, achiev ing success after success under his nomde plume, Henry Seton Merriman. —Miss Winifred James.— Miss Winifred James, late of Adelaide, and well known for her literary ability, bos had tbe distinction of receiving a para gtaph all to herself from London Punch. 'Mr.' Punch says:— 'Bachelor Betty is. a Constable, and therefore rightly deals with 'homely scenes painted in' a simple way — scenes not in East Anglia, but on board a homeward-bound ship:, at Colombo: in a village not 20 miles from London; in a ladies' club not a stone's throw from Hvde Park; in the park itself; in a tanr West End flat; in a Thames-side villa; and generally in just tbe places where you wouhl expect to find a bachelor young lady who had come all the way from Australia to make a living by her pen. Tlie chronicler. Miss Winifred James, is, like Betty, an Australian born, and not very kng ago made the fume pilgrimage 'home.' so that what Betty sees and does and says, nnd her view of England as seen through Australian glasses, has the merit of being the outcome of the author's per sonal experierfce. It is all very fresh and bright, and it Miss James goes on 'as she has begun we shall soon ba talking of yet another Australian chnmnion. Miss James (I beg pardon— Miss Betty) shows a very proper appreciation of our national insti tutions. She fell in love with Ellen Terry aV first sight, and the first time she saw the King her heart throbbed like a Von duard omnibus before it starts; her eyes felt hot and shininc. and she wanted to go straight up to him and kiss his hands and my. Tlease, I would like to do some thing for you.' ' AustraUan and colonial papers please copy.' —Young Adelaide Playwright.— Mr. Beaumont Smith, of The Bulletin and Lone Hand Magazine, is paying a visit to his native city. Mr. Smith left Adelaide rnrly this year, and during his residence in Sydney, apart from his journalistic work there, has been engaged in play writing. His first nlay in which he is col laborator with Steele Rudd.is founded on 'On Our Selection,' for the production of which most satisfactory offers have been made. Roderic Ouinn, the welt-known Syd ney poet, and Mr. Smith are now jointly at work on another Australian drama.
—Mr. De Morgan.— It was remarked iu these columns last week that 'Joseph Vance,' the sensation ally successful new novel by William De Morgan, is 'nearly aU pure Dickens.' Now there comes a confirmation of that verdict —a confirmation striking for its originality and valuable for it** unprejudiced nature. An Adelaide buy of 13/ omnivorous in his reading, but quite modern in his tastes, read about half of 'Joseph Vance' with great interest, but then threw the book aside. '1 can't stand any more of it,' he «iid ruefully; 'it gets too like Dickens as it goes on!' An admission from an oppo i:cnt is always tb-- best evidence. Undoubt cdly, however, there has to be taken into account the modem spirit which 'can't etund' Dickens— after giving him a fair trial; nnd it is this which uiakck doubttul the success of Mr. Galsworthy aud i\r. Dc Morgan, with their return to the deliberate methods of a past generation. The mystery of Mr. Dc Morgan's prose, style is easily solved by a knowledge of the facts about him, now made public. He is a man of 07! That is. he .was 30 when Dickens died, and when he was a youth, that Master was the chief ]M)wer in English fiction. At tlie time, as he says, there was a smaller camp which supiiorted Thackeray at the expense of Dickens; but now it is seen that to set one against the other is as needless and unsatisfactory as to contrast Tennyson and Browning. Mr. De Morgan van a close friend of William Morris, and has mode a name as an artist, chiefly in the direction of designs a* applied to fa brics. There is, in fact, a 'Dc Morgan pro cess' of illustrated-tile manufacture which ix well known. And now the artist bios scms late as a novelist. Tbe analogy with Dti Maurier is instantly obvious. The two writers, however, have little in common, except tliat reliance on reminiscence which is almost certain to be the mainstay of an elderly author. Mr. De Morgan *» not likely to enjoy a 'Trilby' boom. (That it was simply a passing cnue is sufficiently shown by the /act that 'Peter lbbetson,' n better book', went almost al most unnoticed.) The new writer work* out his plots at too great length for modern tastes. 'Joseph Vance' runs to 500 cktfcly minted pages, and 'Alice-for-Short' to 600! The utter story contains much that is admittedly borrowed from the author's per. scnal experience. The one mystery which remains unsolved is how he has been' able to wait until -well, over the age of 60 before giving proof of his great powers with the 1-en. — Publishers and Advertisements.—
The,- selection of isolated passages from book reviews is a well-known incident of the publishing business. It must be a hard fruited critic who does not -use, some v^iere in his review, words which can be taken as favourable when wrenched from their context.- And, if there is no praise, a judicious selection of blame will serve. A third-rate novel latelv to hand contains nrecs notices of its pretlccessor=-w.hich The Register truthfully called 'very silly and it ther vulgar, curiously amateurish.' The publishers proudly quote such verdicts as 'wildlv sensational, 'amazingly naive,' 'rot a book to leave about where young people can find it.? and 'it is something to tltank God for that the type of men and women met with in this story is not a common one!''