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had a really progressive impulse, like that of the nobility who carried out the revolution in Japan. At present the leaders are the Mohammedan clergy, who were similarly, it may be remembered, the progressive force in Turkey in Midhat Pasha's time. But the Persian clergy, and indeed the whole Persian people, are far less awakened to foreign influences than the Turks of thirty years ago. There is genius in the Persian race, as it has abundantly shown by its frequent emergences to a The Speaker.
front place on the world's stage, and nothing is getting clearer in the world's history than the persistence of racial excellence and the probability that a nation which has once done great things on a particular soil will after long fallow periods of degradation resume its greatness. But Persia's new birth seems still far away, and for the present those who discuss its politics in opera bouffe vein, as the politics of Hadji-Baba-land, usually turn out right in their forecasts.
A NEW STUDY OF MEREDITH.*
Mr. Trevelyan's is the most detailed and elaborate study of Mr. Meredith's poetry that has yet appeared. It is a manifest labor of love, the work of an enthusiastic admirer, as appreciative criticism should be. It is also mainly just and discriminating in temper, which is rarer in the case of a poet who moves most critics to extremes of panegyric or antipathy. The volume aims at being a kind of guide to Meredith the poet, a Meredith manual. It studies the poems in all their varieties, and the poet in all his aspects. It is not brilliant or subtle, and its treatment is not always exhaustive. But it is sound, understanding, and, as we have said, mostly balanced work. In the case of a poet so intricate, perhaps we should not complain that. in his zealous delving into detail, Mr. Trevelyan leaves us with a rather confused impression of perspective. He declines, as a hopeless task, to attempt a summary of his own pages, his own views. What, then, must be the plight of the reviewer? We certainly have a difficulty in seeing the wood for the
"The Poetry and Philosophy of George Meredith." By George Macaulay Trevelyan. (Constable & Co.)
trees. We are sensible that the author has covered much and various ground, that with most of his industrious and cultivated analysis we have been in sympathy, that sometimes we have tended to dissent or supplement. It is a compliment to his appreciation of this fine and strongly original poet that our remarks prove chiefly to concern Mr. Meredith's limitations.
Mr. Trevelyan takes a sane and unbiased view of the poet's obscurity-a point on which sanity and discrimination are not common. In all such cases one side sees only cloudy affectation, another declares the difficulty to rise solely from depth of thought. He admits (though a firm Meredithian) that there is obscurity of expression: partly from certain grammatical (or ungrammatical) mannerisms; partly from the peculiar use of incessant, restless, and momentary imagery-metaphor whizzing after metaphor, each so condensed as to need reflective attention; and partly from the poet's packed and pemmicanlike style. He allows the grammatical tricks to be faulty-the docking of relatives and connexions generally, and so forth. They are all parts of Mr. Meredith's lust for compression, as he
says. But he hardly notes sufficiently the poet's harassment of his readers when he says that these tricks are soon mastered and give no further trouble. For they and the quest of compression which begets them lead Mr. Meredith intermittently into sheer bad grammar. The omitted connexions land him in confused connexions. The reader, dazed and thrown off the scent, has finally to hark back and pick up in an earlier clause the antecedent of something which, according to all grammatical logic, should refer to the clause immediately preceding. The connexion is so present to the poet's mind that he forgets it will not be equally present to the mind of the reader, who can only follow the grammar, not being prescient of the author's intention. Similar obtuseness to the reader's necessary limitations in following the processes and transitions of the poet's mind (obtuseness displayed not always in grammar alone, but in wider questions of reference) studs Mr. Meredith's pages, and becomes cumulatively exasperating to readers hard tried enough by the legitimate difficulty in the nature of his style. Such things represent the kind of failing which a poet never suspects, and which his friends lack the courage to tell him.
Mr. Meredith's passion for pregnancy has other consequences, not noted by Mr. Trevelyan. The latter dismisses somewhat too lightly the thorniness of metre which this poet shares with Browning, though admitting it to be often a defect. But the mischief is that it is a constant defect. A knotty manner of thought must bring knotty metre, since without correspondence of expression between substance and versification versification would be metrical nonsense. But even when a passage relaxes into beauty the verse does not relax with it; it remains unsoftened, and still rattles and jolts. That is indefensible. Yet this poet can write
fluent verse: "Love in a Valley" is beautiful metre, "Attila" in its virile way has no uncalled-for obstructions to the metrical torrent. It would seem a poem must be altogether fluid or altogether rubbly. Commonly it is the latter. Much of this is from the hunger after compression. Beauty and fluency and spaciousness of movement demand mostly a certain proportion of polysyllables, or the lines grow cramped and frozen. Mr. Meredith knows this, and in theory reprobates the pettiness of Saxon monosyllables and dissyllables, trotting after each other like a file of pigmies. But when it comes to packing words in a line, you can edge in thrice as many of these as of their longlimbed companions. So, in practice, the Meredithian verse is largely formed of such short words, flattened on each other like a layer of sardines. For the like reason, these thick-set little vocables are often wedged into the unaccented place, where a lighter syllable had been preferable. The total result is that the lines become jammed and will not move, or only with creaking like the limbs of a Dutch doll. The poet loves his Latin and Romance words, but grudges their house-room (so to speak) in his crowded tenement. When, in fact, it is a choice between metre and compactness, metre has the wall.
Mr. Trevelyan insists much on, but cannot exaggerate, the amazing intellectual and imaginative fecundity of the poet. That generative energy is ceaseless as the productive forces of a tropical forest, and Mr. Meredith has a fiery restlessness like that of his own Attila. The imaginative without the intellectual fertility would have made him a more popular poet. But fantasy with him is wedded to the English love for definite thinking, for a "message"; and the product, under the fierce blast of his energy, is something that often makes Browning babes'
meat. This sleepless generative energy is at once his strength and his undoing. His central fault, the flaw which sums up all other flaws, is precisely the obverse side of this brilliant power-it is the restlessness of his poetry. doque bonus dormitat Homerus"; but Meredith-never. Better were it if he did sometimes sleep, at the right time. The great thing lacking to his poetry is repose. Throughout this incessant germination of thoughts and images there is a lack of relief, of space. He is at constant high pressure; and so in the packed mass of brilliance there is likewise a want of breadth.
Yet we scarcely agree with Mr. Trevvelyan as to the poet's wealth of thought. There is a surprising wealth of thoughts; everything is elaborated through a creative profusion of veritably matted ideas-a tangled detail of individual thoughts. But beneath this expressional thought (as we might call it) the basic thought is not of great amount. Mr. Meredith's poetry, as we think, expresses again and again, with an astonishingly perpetual variety of utterance, a few basic ideas. Yet, if we are unable to regard him as a profound or original thinker (in the deeper meaning of the words), the philosophy of life he has based on these ideas is his own; and that in a poet is what chiefly matters. Mr. Trevelyan is whole-hearted in his admiring acceptance of that philosophy, which might perhaps be summed thus:-you must not go behind Nature, but take her as
she is and fit yourself to her, suffering gladly her laws of death as of birth, of winter as of spring; and to do this you must learn, like her, the correlation of forces and the conservation of energy. Which, like most summaries, conveys nothing till it is explained; so the reader had best fall back on Mr. Trevelyan. Mr. Meredith's gospel, like most modern "messages," has one chief defect: it is a gospel for the few. Under its poetic garlands and insistence on the joy of life it is more iron than Stoicism. It demands an austere strength. The limitation of so many modern evangels, poetic and other, which compel admiration, may be summed up in one sentence: "Salvatio fortibus, væ infirmis." And of these is Mr. Meredith's. It offers strength to the strong; to him that hath it gives more. The weak must admire, and look for another prophet, unless they submit to Nietzsche's sentence that their case is hopeless. And we are few of us "supermen."
But these are details which concern chiefly (as we have said) the poet's limitations. The book remains a good and helpful book, which really expounds Mr. Meredith's strength without shirking the acknowledgment that he is more trying than a poet should be; and it should increase the number of his intelligent admirers. A hard nut, but worth the cracking, says Mr. Trevelyan in effect to hesitant readers. And he has given them (shall we say?) a pair of nut-crackers.
BOOKS AND AUTHORS.
Annie H. Small is the author of two slight but well-considered sketches called "Studies in the Faiths," one upon Islam and the other upon Buddhism. (E. P. Dutton & Co.) Both are written from the Christian point of view, and aim to give to Christian readers a compact statement of the essential principles of other faiths.
A new society, called the Malone Society, has just been formed in London for the printing of old plays in strict conformity with the most authentic texts, and also for the publishing of documents and information which may be of interest to students of the English drama. The society hopes to issue eight or ten plays a year.
The Dents in London and the Duttons in this country are publishers of an attractive little series of College Monographs, each of which is devoted to describing and picturing one of the English colleges. The opening volume is upon Trinity College, Cambridge. It is written by W. W. Rouse Ball and illustrated by Edmund H. New. It describes the courts and buildings, outlines the history of the college and gives bright and pleasing glimpses of life at the University.
The Oxford University Press announces "The Oxford Anthology of English Literature," by G. E. and W. H. Hadow, in three volumes, the first volume tracing the course of prose and poetry (other than dramatic) from Beowulf to the Jacobean age; while the second follows the history of the English drama to the same limit, and the third will take up the record at the time of Milton and will continue it to that of Tennyson and Browning. The
examples selected will be accompanied, by brief introductions.
"Q's" new book, "From a Cornish Window," will be published in a few days by E. P. Dutton & Co. The work is under the headings of the twelve months of the year, and is dedicated in a characteristic address to Mr. William Archer. E. P. Dutton & Co. will also publish "Jottings of an Old Solicitor," by Sir John Hollams. Sir John has attained the good old age of 86, and has reached the highest rank in his profession. He became a Solicitor in 1844, is a Lieutenant for the city of London, and was knighted in 1902. The book contains reminiscences of the great Judges of recent times, and of the famous Barristers.
A feature of Messrs. Longmans' new list is the number of volumes of correspondence which it announces-or of memoirs based on correspondence. In addition to Dr. Edgar Sheppard's memoirs of the private life of the late Duke of Cambridge-now in the press, in two volumes-the list includes two volumes of "Letters Personal and Literary of Robert Earl of Lytton (Owen Meredith)," edited by his daughter, Lady Betty Balfour, "Correspondence of Two Brothers-Edward Adolphus, 11th Duke of Somerset, and Lord Webb Seymour, 1810-1819, and after," edited by Lady Guendolen Ramsden, third daughter of the 12th Duke of Somerset; and two volumes containing the "Life and Letters of the First Earl of Durham, 1792-1840," by Mr. Stuart J. Reid.
The "Dearlove" of Frances Campbell's new story is a quaint and petted child on whom the devotion of a family group centres, and the "history of her summer's make-believe" describes
a season at Guernsey when her grandfather, the Earl, her mother, his widowed daughter, her uncle, his heir, and her aunt, his daughter-in-law, all play at being children with her. The figure of a pathetic little cripple divides the interest with Dearlove, and the mystery of his parentage determines the plot. The story is strongly marked by that fanciful quality which characterizes this writer's work, but one questions whether the children for whom it was written would not enjoy it better if it were told in a more straightforward style. E. P. Dutton & Co.
Mrs. Campbell Dauncey's "An Englishwoman in the Philippines" (E. P. Dutton & Co.) is a vivid and vivacious account of nine months' journeyings about the islands, and observations of their condition and the attitude of the Filipinos toward the American administration. The book gains in readableness, if it loses something in dignity, from the fact that it is made up of a series of letters written home from day to day as the scenes described fell under the writer's eye. It was Mrs. Dauncey's fortune to be in the islands when the visiting Taft party were there, and to be present at the banquet at Iliolo, when certain notable things were said by Mr. Taft and others. Of this episode, as of others, she writes with amused condescension and with no conspicuous respect for dignities or dignitaries. It may be pardoned to an Englishwoman if she regards rather patronizingly the first American experiment in the government of "little brown men"; but sensitive Americans may feel that she carries her levity and her cynicism too far. Whatever room there may be for differences of opinion on this point, no one will be inclined to deny that the book is bright and diverting; and candid students of the problems involved
in the government of the Philippines may obtain from these gay and occasionally audacious pages some light not found in official reports. The value of the book is enhanced by illustrations.
The twenty-second, twenty-third and twenty-fourth volumes of the Arthur H. Clark Company's reprints of Early Western Travels, edited by Dr. Reuben Gold Thwaites, are taken up with the reproduction of "Travels in the Interior of North America By Maximilian, Prince of Wied," translated from the German by H. Evans Lloyd, and first printed in London in 1843. Prince Maximilian was an enthusiastic German savant, with a special inclination toward exploration in new countries and the study of primitive civilizations. He spent two years in an expedition to Brazil before he embarked upon the greater enterprise, in 1832, of exploring the then little trayersed regions of the far west and northwest of North America. He did his work in a serious and leisurely manner, making notes and collections as he went, spending considerable periods of time at fur trading posts and other settlements, and studying the ways and customs of the aborigines closely. He had for a companion an artist, who made excellent pictures of what he
His narrative is written in an easy and direct style, and is fully supplied with scientific detail but not overloaded with it. The present edition is more complete than the London edition, -which it follows in the main,-in that it gives the twenty-three Indian vocabularies, which appeared in the original German edition, and also Maximilian's account of the Indian sign language, his catalogue of birds for both the Missouri and Wabash river val leys, and a summary of his meteorological observations on the upper Missouri. These add materially to the scientific value of the present edition.