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“women and the pleasures of the table,” his disbelief of the theory “that it is necessary to make a hell of this world to enjoy Paradise in the next,” his magnificence surpassing all predecessors, and his marvelous five palaces, “ destined for the particular gratifi cation of each of his senses." This singular story is not wholly unlike Voltaire's romance of “ Zadig."
The first chapter of “ The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia," by Samuel Johnson, contains a description of a palace in the happy valley in the Kingdom of Amhara, and also a description of this wonderful valley.
The perpetual joy of “The Vicar of Wakefield," by Goldsmith, is due to the simplicity of the tale and the directness of the telling. The opening chapter is a depiction of the family of girls of the pure-minded Rev. Mr. Primrose, the poor vicar of Wakefield. It is a direct domestic story, simple, clear, honest, without cynicism or suggestion of doubt or insincerity in the honor and reality of the characters.
It is a singular book, entitled “Tristram Shandy," that Lawrence Sterne, that everlasting cynic and jester, gave the world. In every chapter the writer leads the reader to anticipate something that is never related, deviating to something else utterly irrelevant. In the first chapter the author laments that his parents were not more mindful in his creation to endow him with greater genius.
'Griffith Gaunt” begins by describing the high-minded girl, carrying her into the hunt, and disclosing a quarrel at the end of the fox chase that is precipitated through the jealousy of Griffith. The lovers part there in no happy frame of mind. Charles Reade showed his dramatic skill in this as in “ Peg Woffington,” “ Foul Play," and others of his novels. It was said of him in his palmiest days that he missed it but a hair's breadth of being England's greatest novelist.
As already intimated, Scott's first chapter of “Waverley” is primarily introductory, and goes into confidence with the reader as to why he selected the title, and he forecasts several stories that the reader must have anticipated had the story been named differ
ently. Then he states what “Waverley” is, a tale that is more a description of men than manners." His purpose is "to throw the force of the narrative upon the characters and passions of the actors.” Edward Waverley, the hero, is a soldier.
David Copperfield, Dickens proceeds first to tell us, was born on a Friday night, and the very first thing he did was to test his lungs by crying. In speculating about the new-born child, some women said he was unlucky born, and would therefore be unlucky in life, and would also see ghosts. Telling his own story, David proceeds to relate how his caul, after a long time, was finally sold to an old woman who was preserved from drowning by this caul because she was never upon the water. As a posthumous son he tells of the domestic infelicity of his great-aunt, called Betsy, and how she introduced herself in eccentric manner into his mother's home just anterior to his birth. He thinks her severe presence affected his whole life. The carping old critic makes Mrs. Copperfield fear her, and she even sneers at the name of the servant girl called Peggotty. In the event that the child should be a girl, Miss Betsy wanted it named in full for her, and then she would see to the little one's future welfare. And here by offensive direct questions the old lady develops all the events of Mrs. Copperfield's life, chiefly those things that Mrs. Copperfield would like to have remain in the background. And the timid medical attendant is almost frightened to death by Miss Betsy's bluff, domineering ways. This is all in the first chapter.
“Vanity Fair” opens humorously on the arrival of a large family coach at an academy for young ladies, and the conversation between the two running the academy. Then is presented a copy of the letter of the lettered senior sister to the mother of the young lady who was to return home in the coach, taking with her all the accomplishments secured in a six-years' residence in the academy. The austere senior sister had established the practice of giving to each pupil sent out with a finished education a copy of Dr. Johnson's “ Dixonary." But her threadbare feelings would not permit her
to give one to Becky Sharp, and when the other good-hearted, unlettered sister in the last minute rushed out and gave her one, Becky petulantly flung it back out of the coach, as if resenting the insult the senior sister had put upon her by refusing her one in the first instance, and even now was not aware that one had been given her. A slight description of the favorite young graduate, Amelia Sedley, is given. This popular, meek young lady has many presents to deposit in the coach to take home as mementoes from her school friends. Amelia's parting with the sisters is tender and tearful, but Becky Sharp's is frigid, cynical, and has the element of snubbing in it. Thackeray draws the veil over the yoops (cries ) of the bevy of girls from whom Amelia is parting, while not a tear is shed for spiteful Becky Sharp.
Bulwer's first chapter of “The Last Days of Pompeii ” is short, and is chiefly a conversation between the young Romans, Diomed, Clodius, and Glaucus, concerning wine and feasts. Clodius was an idler, Diomed an ostentatious son of a freedman, and Glaucus a fashionable and high-born young man of Grecian extraction.
“Lothair " opens with a brief talk between a duchess and one of her married daughters about Lothair. The duchess and her family constitute a happy and gorgeous household, as Disraeli permits the reader to peep into it. Some account of the duke's family and himself is given, their perfect manners, their great wealth, and their too-frequent changes from one estate to another. However, their predilection is for the old family estate, which is described in a short paragraph.
“ The Children of the Abbey” — you have heard of it ? — puts little garland of poetry, as it were, the first thing to every chapter. The first chapter describes the emotions of the heroine on her return, after some eventful years, to the cottage of her nurse, and speaks of the cottage and the appearance of the young lady, the chief personage in the story. Miss Roche mentions the joy of a social evening and the festival and the music, and presents the sad reflections of the heroine alone afterward.
That lovely domestic story of Jane Austen,
Emma," opens with some account of the girl, her situation, age, temper, person, the sorrow at the loss of the governess by marriage, and the consequence of putting Emma at the head of the family without adviser. A suggestive talk takes place then between Mr. Knightley, a likely bachelor, friend, and neighbor, and Emma's father, in which Emma takes part enough to be represented as present.
The opening chapter of “Scottish Chiefs' is a long one, significantly historical, describing the political state of Scotland in the days of Wil am Wallace, and the oppression that this brave, bold spirit would not suffer without resistance. The exigency of the times carries Wallace away from his retirement and his dutiful, sweet wife into dangerous places, but it is for the freedom of Scotland he endangers his life. There is a long conversation about the perilous, trying times and their immediate history between Wallace and his friend, Sir John Monteith, who in the end entrusts to Wallace's keeping a box, that subsequently figures seriously in the story, the contents of which are not revealed in the initial chapter.
Shirley " opens with a word of confidence to the reader about a “ shower of curates," and adds that it would be wrong to presume that the writer has a romance to reveal to the reader. It is a she says, she has begun to narrate. And then three
are formally “introduced” to the reader in a sort of humorous, light manner. Their mode of living is depicted in rather uncomplimentary airiness, and their feasting and stuffing and wining themselves is made to seem their chief business in life. In one of their noisy, gleeful festivals a man of middle age bursts in upon them, unannounced, to their mortification. He reads them a dutiful lesson, sternly enough, to be sure. Then a conversation succeeds, which partly depicts a situation that may become exciting in the end.
“Middlemarch first describes, in a meditative style, Miss Brooke's plain dress, and her cleverness and character, and her manner of life in a quiet country house, and her
supper table, and this scene of the injured man is again repeated there at greater length. They also speak of Mr. Elsmere, the clergyman. And on retiring Catherine
theoretic mind inclined to religious vagaries. Dorothea Brooke was a likely, marriageable girl, with some prospect of an inheritance of a fair living, but she had more faith in the womanly attractions of her sister Celia than in her own. The sisters one day divided their deceased mother's jewels between them, Celia disposed to wear hers, and Dorothea disinclined to do so. She kept only a ring and bracelet for herself, and generously gave the rest to her sister.
In the early springtime afternoon a scene in a valley is painted by Mrs. Humphry Ward in “Robert Elsmere," and the valley is described in careful terms. The declining sun throws in relief a solitary house far up this narrow valley, and the springtime picture is photographed in realistic terms. Two sisters of different turn of mind emerge from this house, and pass
halfreproachful, half-bantering words as to how they had spent the immediate afternoon. An elder sister, Catherine, practical, helpful, willing, appears a little later. Catherine has been away to give aid to an injured friend, and she narrates the scene to her sisters. A little afterward they appear together at the
· The Master Christian,” by Corelli, opens with a scene in a French province as the bells ring the Angelus, and the cathedral within is next described in full terms. The infidel spirit then prevalent in France is shown, and the perfect faith of a certain cardinal and his reflections about life and death and their mysteries, and his own inability to live up to his Christian ideal. He wonders how the lack of faith in God and a hereafter has crept into the world. His meditations, a sort of regret and lament for human frailty, so continuous a strain upon him, have injured his health. Now at this time he is in the cathedral, and the solemnity impresses him. He meditates, and wonders, and speculates, and recites the Holy Text. But all his deep reasoning leads to no certain conclusion, And so the first chapter ends.
But, time is up. EVANSVILLE, Ind.
F. A. Myers.
COMMON ERRORS IN WRITING CORRECTED. - VI.
Avoid the use of commence.” Use the simpler word, “begin.” G. P. Marsh says : “In the usage of good writers, 'commence' is never followed by the infinitive.” We begin to write ; we begin or commence writing.
Similarly purchase” is not so good a word for commcı lise as “buy."
“ Round” is an adjective, and should not be used for "around.” If you wish to employ the shorter form for the adverb, put in the apostrophe and write “'round.” In the case of the adjective never say rounder" or “roundest." A thing cannot be more
her. “I find there is no possibility of fame for me,” she wails, “because of the unfairness of the reviewers. For twenty years I have written in the hope of appealing to literary England, but I find I have not done so. My books have not had a single review in the Spectator, the Saturday Review, the Academy, or the other journals which claim to criticise the country's literature. I have come to the conclusion that it is not worth writing any more.” The fact that “ Frank Danby's” books have had a considerable sale does not make this other than a just conclusion. If a writer's novels are of real value, they will command attention from the best critics, and it cannot be denied. If they are not of real value, the sooner the author quits, the better.
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A review of “ The Southerner," written by Francis Hackett for the Chicago Evening Post, contains a suggestion that should be heeded by all writers who have not yet learned that natural speech in dialogue is almost always simple. Mr. Hackett quotes from the book, an autobiographical tale of life in a Southern state since the Civil War," the author's description of how he proposed to
“ Louise" : Then she said : “ Shall we go ?” “No, Louise, I have come to stay with this vision. I have 'ound the fullness of life at last." She looked at the great mountain across the valley.
Life," I said, has climbed to this high moment, through errors and uncertainties climbed - to this high moment when the way seems clear and I am here
- to stay ?” I clasped both her hands. “I think it was meant to be so," she said simply. I drew her to me. “ Perhaps,” says
Mr. Hackett, do say to women, on the top of a mountain, at sunset, ‘Life has climbed to this high moment, through errors and
uncertainties climbed' but it sounds more like Belasco than like life. And when, the instant after, a boy appears on the mountain top, with a telegram announcing that 'Billy' Bain is dead, does Nicholas Worth say: 'Louise, Billy is dead'? Apparently not.
He says : 'Oh, Love, the master spirit of our little world is gone.'”
we are told that A. T. Quiller-Couch thinks out his stories in the course of long walks, and that most of his output is dictated to his wife. However, we are told, also, that he is a slow and painstaking worker, rarely exceeding 1,000 words a day, and sometimes producing fewer than 150, so that perhaps his obliging consort is not overworked.
than 20,000 periodicals published in the United States, and that the list of 300 words was promulgated three years ago, it looks as if the movement were not making rapid headway. Spelling reform will never amount to anything until the periodicals in general accept it. Perhaps the Simplified Spelling Board's forms may be generally accepted some day. In the mean time, as THE Writer has said before, writers will do well not to use the new forms in their manuscripts, because if they do editors will have to change the spelling to the usual style before sending the manuscript to the printers, and editors, as a rule, are not looking for unnecessary work.
In a letter to the president of Howard College, H. Rider Haggard says : “ After all, what imaginative effort really needs is the breath of life, and of this quality, it seems to me, critics often neglect to take account. The humblest and the homeliest living woman ( to take an illustration) is mightier and more noble far than the most glorious Grecian goddess of marble.” In other words, the essential thing in literary work is human interest.
W. H. H.
The Simplified Spelling Board, which started its spelling reform three years ago with a list of 300 words, has now published a list of 3,261 reformed words, and announces that the officers of the board are compiling a “ Manual of Simplified Spelling," dealing with about 25,000 words. The latest list contains, in round numbers, 1,100 separate words simplified in the root, and 2,200 inflected forms in which the change appears only the inflection. It contains, in addition to the former list, words having -eapronounced -ě-, and so simplified as in hed, helth, spred, etc. ; preterits and participles ending in -ed pronounced -d, and so simplified as in armd, burnd, fild, livd, etc. ; words ending in -ice pronounced -is, and so simplified as in coppis, cornis, crevis, justis, etc. ; words ending in -ve pronounced -v, and so simplified, preceded by 1 or r, as in delv, solv, carv, serv, etc. Those who are active in the movement seem to think that they are making gratifying progress, although according to their own figures only 259 American periodicals have adopted their forms of spelling, and most of these only to a limited extent. Fewer than seventy-five periodicals have adopted the first list of 300 words. Considering that there are
Larry Evans, whose story, “The Satin Slipper," was published in the Red Book for September, is a newspaper man, twentyone years old. Last year he had two magazine stories published, one in the Red Book, which will soon publish other stories of his. “ The Satin Slipper” was suggested by the rather spectacular failure of a production in New York about two years ago.
Mr. Evans expects to be back in newspaper work this fall as a stenographic reporter.
Vanderheyden Fyles, whose story, “The Lady and the Letters," was printed in Ainslee's for August, began writing fiction less than two years ago, since when he has published twenty-odd stories, principally in the Smart Set. His writing before that had