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complete the suspension of vital activity is and how entirely within the range of the physiologically possible are accounts of burial under the appearance of death and subsequent release and recovery. A hedgehog will in ordinary circumstances drown by being put for a few minutes under water; but Marshall Hall found that a hedgehog in a state of winter torpidity could bear prolonged immersion with impunity. Nothing could show more clearly than experiments of this kind how correct it is to say that life or animation is in a state of suspension. The total of its functions is therefore likely to be taken up again at the point reached when they ceased rather than at the point it would have attained had consciousness and activity continued in the interval. It is not simply, as is often supposed, that the animal instead of taking food lives on its stored-up food-products. There is what amounts to a practical cessation of all vital functions. Carbonic acid gas, for instance, is one of the most poisonous of mediums and almost immediately fatal to animal life. Yet a torpid marmot may be immured in it for hours and will survive without any evil effects.
The interesting question therefore remains as to how far science will provide us with the power of doing at will
what thus appears to be within the bounds of possibility? There is every reason to foresee that it will be within the power of science thus to slow down almost to a standstill the vital processes. It will therefore inferentially be possible for the human creature of the future to take his life in instalments, separated by long intervals of unconsciousness. This opens the door to many interesting specualtions. Are we also to foresee that the rich and powerful would in such circumstances strive to postpone indefinitely the still inevitable ending, and that society in the future will have not only its cemeteries but its rest-houses, regulated by science and maintained by the State, where those who desire it may retire to a period of oblivion, to take up the thread of existence at a future period? Or should we have to imagine society jealously reserving to a few honored individuals the right to undergo in this way the experiences of a multiplied life-span, and choosing with discrimination the politicians and philosophers, who would thus have to verify before posterity the truth of their own predictions? Judging by the past not a large proportion would prove to have been exponents of this kind of projected efficiency.
A MIRROR FOR JOURNALISTS.
It is a truism that the written word differs from the spoken word, but it is too often forgotten that the written word has many types, and that the standard rightly varies in each. We do not expect to find lyrical prose in a Report or a Blue-book, nor do we seek in a leading article, written to edify the man in the train, the polished, jewel-like form of an essay composed for the delight of the man of leisure.
We have full-dress and undress writing, and the merits of one kind are the vices of the other. Somewhere, "laid up in Heaven," like the Platonic ideas, is a standard of pure English prose, to which at rare intervals the masters seem to attain. But there is also a working model, consciously imperfect, a kind of compromise between colloquial speech and a more formal statement, which is, or should be, the stand
ard for journalism, pamphleteering, and ordinary expository work written for a practical end. We wish to see this second standard kept at a high, but not an impossible, level. Gross faults should be reprobated, but minor blemishes overlooked. For the essence of such work is that it makes an appeal to a certain sort of mind, and its language must be intelligible to its audience. While refusing to pander to the vulgarity of the mob, it should be equally free from le vulgaire des sages. Good journalism ought to have many points of kinship with good talk, and some of the looseness and colloquialism of our common speech is not out of place. The anonymous authors of "The King's English" (Oxford: at the Clarendon Press, 5s. net) have subjected the everyday writing of English to a rigorous analysis, and have found it wanting. The book is delightful reading, if only for its wit and urbanity of style. Its logic is unsparing, but there is no hint of the doctrinaire. The faults of popular prose are lucidly expounded and delicately ridiculed. None the less, it is a book to make all whose business it is to write rapidly-journalists, teachers, politicians-horribly selfconscious. And since self-consciousness means the cessation of their activity, it is worth while to consider whether the tests are not too hard.
With much of the criticism we are in full agreement. Many of the “awful warnings" are taken from our own pages, and with sorrow we confess our sins. For blunders in syntax, of which every one is guilty, there is no defence. He who through carelessness sins against the light can only plead the force majeure of overwork in his defence. The best writers may slip at times.-Stevenson, for example, has singular verbs with plural substantives, and Matthew Arnold has split infinitives. The distinction between good and bad writing is the frequency of
such errors. of "howlers," for which the printer cannot always be blamed. But no educated writer will translate scandalum magnatum as "a shocking affair," and Cui bono? as "What's the good of it?" Certain technical mistakes in syntax seem to us to be almost defensible. It was wrong for Mr. Meredith to write: "I am she, she me, till death and beyond it," and yet there is a certain justification from common habit, and from the cacophony of the correct alternative. One danger of harping too much on grammatical erorrs in a particular form of speech is that writers become shy of the form altogether. "And which," for example, requires, to be correct, a previous relative; but so many people have been so often warned against the error of its use without a predecessor, that they refuse to conjoin relatives altogether and are driven to cumbrous circumlocution. So also with the split infinitive. This is generally so ugly that few dare consciously to use it. But there are cases where the true verb introduced by the particle "to" is not the verb alone, but a verbal phrase containing an adverb, which it may be right for the sake of emphasis to insert immediately after the particle. Grammar, after all, was made for man, and not man for grammar, and we should see to it that its rules are wide enough to satisfy the exigencies of life.
Every one, too, is capable
When we come to vocabulary and style we are on more debatable ground. A sentence in the preface comforts us greatly. "The frequent appearance,” the authors write, "of any author's or newspaper's name does not mean that that author or newspaper offends more often than others against rules of grammar or style; it merely shows that they have been among the necessarily limited number chosen to collect instances from." Now this is not good writing. It is cumbrous, wordy, and
platitudinous, and the ending on "from" gives it an almost Gampish air. If doctors can err, the humble citizen may plead for a lenient sentence. Certain admirable rules are laid down for our guidance,-prefer the familiar word to the far fetched, the short word to the long, the concrete word to the abstract. But many will differ on the instances chosen. The writers condemn the use of "save" in the place of "except." To our mind, the first word is as familiar as the second, and there may be a very good reason for its use, for "except" is a hard, aggressive word which may well spoil the euphony of a sentence. Nor can we see why it should be wrong to use "wind-flowers" instead of "anemones." A sentence from our own columns, "We will here merely chronicle the procession of events," is taken as an instance of a malapropism,-"procession" for "progress"; but surely it is a quite legitimate metaphor. But though we may quarrel with an instance here and there, we have no fault to find with the general criticism of current blunders. "Journalese" is one class,-sonorous words used inaccurately or tastelessly, like "in the contemplated eventuality" for "if so,” “transpire” for “happen,' “visualize" for "see." On the subject of "Neologisms" the authors take up a liberalconservative attitude. New words must come, but only when the new need has arisen. "A writer should not indulge in them unless he is quite sure that he is a good writer." "Americanisms," when they mean the introduction of Transatlantic vulgarisms, are not to be encouraged, and it is no defence to say that they are found in Chaucer. They may be good old English, but they are not good English. Each must be taken on its merits, and only if it is beautiful or useful does it deserve to survive. The same thing is generally true of our native slang. Its proper place is in real life, and not
in the more formal sphere of writing, though when it contains a vivid metaphor it may be justified on the merits. One remark of the authors is well worth quoting:-"The effect of using quotation marks with slang is merely to convert a mental into a moral weakness." "Solecisms," again, which mean the absence of the literary sense, are at all times to be condemned. Such is the use of "individual" or "person," and of phrases like "rather unique." But the authors are at their best in their chapter on "Airs and Graces," those sad and futile attempts of the literary man to relieve the tedium of the world. Polysyllabic humor, which saw something funny in speaking, as Poe sometimes did, of the nose as an "olfactory organ," has, we hope, departed with the Victorian era. Once it was a disease, and even George Eliot could write: "You refrain from any lacteal addition and rasp your tongue with unmitigated bohea." One vice which still flourishes in our midst is that which the authors call "elegant variation." You begin by writing "Mr. Chamberlain"; in the next sentence you call him "the great Imperialist." in the next "the Birmingham dictator,"―until in the end neither you nor your readers know what you are at. "Archaism" is mainly the vice of the writer of historical novels, and it results in obscurity or in a plunge into modern slang. It was Mr. Crockett who once spoke of a "house-party" at a French castle in the fifteenth century, and his works make a happy hunting-ground for the lover of such lapses. Last come those flowers of speech which the authors can only call "antics,"-the inappropriate word, preciousness, irrelevant poetry, intrusive smartness, and the "determined picturesque," as when Mr. E. F. Benson writes: "A carriage drive lay in long curves like a flicked whip lash, surmounting terrace after terrace set with nugatory nudities."
All these are conscious sins of commission, flagrant, aggressive sins for which no serious defence can be made. The reading of "The King's English" is a wholesome but saddening experi"If thou shouldst mark iniquities," we may ask of it in the Psalmist's words, "who shall stand?" Probably in every sentence we have written there lurks some error which will be added to future editions. Our one consolation is that we are in good company. Mr. Morley can write "continuation" for "continuance," "continuance" for "continuation," "irreparable" for "irreplacable," and he can translate esprit d'escalier as "the spirit of the staircase," which, as the authors justly remark, suggests a goblin lurking in the hall clock. George Eliot wrote "euphuistically" for "euphemistically," and Borrow talked of having "resource to vice" instead of “recourse." Mr. MereThe Spectator.
dith speaks of "a mutually sensitive nerve," which is impossible, and Emerson gaily writes esprit du corps. Even so careful a writer as Stevenson has "demean" when he meant "degrade," misled by a false philology, and Mr. Balfour, the purity of whose English is remarkable, revels in the use of "individual" for "person." The truth is that without a blunder now and then there can be no good writing. A man should endeavor to write English as a master, not as a schoolmaster, and it is only the schoolmaster who never slips. Again, every member in good standing of the great Guild Merchant of Literature should remember Dryden's magnificent boast: "I trade both with the living and the dead for the enrichment of our tongue." When the river ceases to be fed by new streams it inevitably stagnates.
A NOVELIST'S DAY.
cocked my revolver and waited. Nothing further happened. My prompt action probably threw villains off scent. Escaped that danger, however, only to run into another. As I stood there, sinister foreigner accosted me. Dark man, probably Anarchist. Asked me to direct him to "Leicester Skvare." Kept my head, fortunately. Pointed towards Charing Cross, and, while his attention was distracted, dashed across street again. (Mem.: New hat. How much?) Ghastly incident now took place. Scarcely had I arrived on opposite pavement when man again attempted to force paper on me. Took to my heels, dodging from right to left to avoid bullets. This must have baffled him, for I heard no shots. Small boy said, "Chase me!" and called me Bambaata. Almost certainly some Anarchist code. To throw gang off scent
once more took cab. Drove to Essex Street by way of Sloane Square, Putney, and Mortlake. Gave man shilling. He said, "What the blank"" Recognized instantly that he was in the pay of these scoundrels, and sprang into four-wheeler. Told man to drive to Southampton Street via the "Angel" at Islington. Looked out of window. Sinister hansom close behind. Man with whiskers in it. (Mem.: Hon. Secretary of Anarchists?) Rapidly disguised myself with blue spectacles and a yellow toupee. Hansom drove past and disappeared. Clever, but a little obvious. Block in traffic opposite the Oval. Seized with sudden inspiration (Mem.: Genius?), opened door quietly. Was slipping out when cabman happened to look round. Unpleasantness. Gave him shilling. Man said, "What the blank!" Another of the gang! Was I never to shake off these bloodhounds? I asked myself what Smartleigh Trackenham ( detective in The Gore that Distilled from the Crack in the China Vase) would have done. Took Tube. Lift-man sinister. Covered him with revolver from inside pocket. He must have noticed this, for he made Got into train. Alone in carriage. On the alert for sudden attack from conductor (a sinister man). Emerged cautiously at Bank. Changed
my disguise in secluded corner of subway. Took off spectacles and put on brown beard. Policeman at Mansion House crossing. I think, Anarchist. Hid behind pillar-box, and watched Anarchists, disguised as clerks, search for me. Man asked me time. Controlled my voice and told him. My disguise so perfect that he suspected nothing. At five o'clock changed my disguise again (false nose, colored at end, and black moustache), and sprang on to bus. Reached home, five-thirty, worn Went to bed after searching room and locking door. Nightmares.
From "Literary Notes" in the Weekly Logroller:-"An interesting departure from his wonted manner will be noted in Mr. William Le Curdler's forthcoming volume. Though from the pen of the author of The Black Cap, The Scream in the Lonely Wood, and numerous other sensational novels familiar to our readers, Little Willy's Governess, which Messrs. Papp, Bottleby and Bibbins promise for the early autumn, is a simple story of child-life, simply told. We have reason to believe that Mr. Le Curdler, who is at present undergoing a rest-cure in the Engadine, intends for the future to write nothing but this type of story."
BOOKS AND AUTHORS.
In despair of being able, in the brief space available in this department, to give any just idea of the charm of Edith Sichel's "The Life and Letters of Alfred Ainger," The Living Age reprints elsewhere in this number Canon Beeching's appreciation from The Speaker. But the reader will be wisest who depends neither upon Canon Beeching nor any other reviewer, but reads for himself this delightful memoir
of one of the most gentle, witty and kindly men of his time. Canon Ainger's mirth never carried a sting, and his letters, scattered through this volume, simply bubble over with spontaneous good-humor. E. P. Dutton & Co. are the American publishers.
In "The Awakening of Helena Ritchie" Mrs. Margaret Deland has achieved at once the strongest and the most delicate