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TABLE TALK.

TH

HE stage in England has never been, as it is in France, a school

of language, and its authority with regard to pronunciation or accent is far from being accepted as important, still less as final. Until recently, however, it has not been regarded as absolutely misleading, and those who would not dream of referring a student to the pronunciation adopted by actors would not, at least, think of cautioning him against it. It seems as if the moderate amount of credit hitherto assigned the stage in this respect will shortly have to be withdrawn. If nothing is done to teach a young actor his art, if he is allowed to scramble on to the stage with no preliminary practice in the country under the supervision of those who will correct with rebuke or ridicule flagrant vices of style, and if he is allowed to alter at will the words assigned him, the result cannot be other than fatal to the claim of acting to rank as art. At the present moment there is not one actor in a score able to pronounce half a dozen lines of verse without committing some egregious blunder, or without marring or in some wise altering the text. The most common form of error arises from the insertion of accent where none is requisite. Very sparing indeed in its employment of accent is our language. In not one sentence in fifty is any form of special emphasis required. An actor now not seldom supplies a misplaced accent, or a ridiculous emphasis, and Aatters himself he is giving us a new reading. Let one who wishes to judge of this subject take the play of Hamlet: I am not speaking from the book, but I doubt whether there are a dozen cases in all, in the acting edition of Hamlet, in which there is any need for decided emphasis. The only cases I recall occur in the closet scene, wherein Hamlet responds to his mother's statement, “Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended,” with the rebuke, “Mother, you have my father much offended.” Here the emphasis upon the word "you" can scarcely be too strong, since the responsibility and the guilt are at once shifted from the shoulders of Hamlet to those of Gertrude. In the following lines, the opposition between “an idle tongue" and “ a wicked tongue" may also be marked in a similar fashion. average performance of Hamlet, meanwhile, there are some scores of

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misreadings, the whole of which spring from the attempt to place accent or emphasis where none is required. The old joke concerning the exponent of Ratcliff in Richard III., who, in answer to the King's question, announced himself, “My lord, 'tis I, the early village cock,” depends, of course, upon wrong punctuation. Errors equally extravagant, though different in origin, are, however, now common on the stage, and I do not exaggerate in saying that there are few of our younger actors, male or female, who do not frequently destroy the meaning of the words assigned them. Strong measures are necessary to remedy this evil, and, if such are not taken, our stage will come under a reproach of ignorance and perversity, and will incur the contempt of all men of education.

I

AM glad to see that the anonymous complaint of Dr. Howard

Furness, which I was the first to strengthen with the authority of his name, concerning the manner in which the Tower is shown to strangers, seems likely to bear fruit. With the approval of the Secretary of State for War, the Constable of the Tower has appointed a committee to investigate the objects of interest in that building, and to frame regulations for the future admission of visitors. This seems like a direct answer to the appeal, and doubtless is such. In constitution the committee is all that can be required; it is only to be hoped that the rules of red tape will be relaxed, and that its hands will not be hampered.

R. DOBSON'S volume of “Literary Frivolities," which con

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Chatto & Windus, is an absolutely delightful companion for an unoccupied half-hour. It is a book which may with equal pleasure be read all through or dipped into at any point, and the collection of literary triflings it supplies is admirably ample. No work of this kind is likely to claim completeness, and there are one or two instances of the forms of frivolity he describes which Mr. Dobson will do well to include in his next edition. It is difficult to think of Milton in connection with frivolity. Still, in dealing with monosyllabic verse, and quoting from Hall, Young, Lodge, Herbert, and Shakespeare

, Mton should not be forgotten. The lines in which he depicts, by the use of monosyllables, the progress of the fiend through the

Boggy Syrtis, neither sea

Nor goud dry land, Ach, in orier to arrive at the earth, he is compelled to cross, are y conceived to indicate a journey of this kind:

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The fiend,
O'er bog or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare,
With head, hands, wings, or feet pursues his way,

And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies. Pope seems, in his version of Homer, to have in part imitated these lines, since he translates the famous verses of the Iliad, xxiii. 116

Πολλά δ' άναντα, κάταντα, πάραντά τε, δόχμιά τ' ήλθον, etc., intended to describe the roughness of a road

O'er hills, o'er dales, o'er crags, o'er rocks they go,
Jumping, high o'er the shrubs of the rough ground,

Rattle the clattering cars, and the shockt axles bound. Spenser furnishes one or two good instances of monosyllabic verse, to which fact it is probably attributable that Phineas Fletcher, his arch imitator, whom Mr. Dobson quotes, has essayed the same form of art.

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COMPANION volume to that Mr. Dobson has supplied

might be formed out of the contributions to the newspaper press of recent writers. Among gems have to be counted Jeffrey Prowse's rhymed description of Mentone, which was printed as a column of prose in a daily newspaper, and the imitation of the Laureate's “In Memoriam” which appeared in Punch a dozen or more years ago, in the shape of an advertisement of Ozokerit. The latter is one of the finest parodies ever written.

I

AM glad to see a recommendation in the Pall Mall Gazette that

fountains, such as I mentioned were to be found at most French railway stations, should be constructed in England along our principal lines. One of the most noteworthy sights of a railway journey in France is the crowd at the fountain with the men and women waiting in a queue to fill their bottles or to wash their hands and faces. The erection of drinking-fountains at our railway stations would do more for the cause of temperance than any quantity of closing, Sunday or other, of publichouses. No reason why a scheme of this kind should not be immediately carried out presents itself to me except that it is not punitive enough in its character to commend itself to those who believe in no legislation that is not repressive. Meanwhile, as I am dealing with the question of closing, I will mention that a case came under my notice recently in which a petition in favour of Sunday closing was being passed round a Sunday school and signed by all the children who were old enough to write their names.

N his newly-published life of Étienne Dolet, which may claim to

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Mr. Christie, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Manchester, after poing out errors and shortcomings in many accepted works, suppöas a forridable Est of omissions and errata in that “Nouvelle Bagabie Gaétaie” which is, as a whole, one of the most creditable podes of French scholarship, and one of the most inseparable coepasises of the modern student. Under the head of Nicholas Best Jean de Langeac, Gratien du Pont, Liset, &c., erroneous

OS or no sortation at all, is supplied. I have rarely had Ocease to fod serious fault with this work, but have failed to find in

the name of Toachard-Lafosse, the author of "Les Chroniques de rer de Bizzy" or that of Sacchetti, one of the best known of the laian Dorests—a ran who appears in English biographical dicEssaries and bose works have been reprinted by the famous Typogarbica: Society of Mian Mr. Christie draws attention to the fact, woich pos who use the work must have noticed, that whereas the letters 1-P OOCpr more than forty volumes, somewhat less than six are assigned to those from to Z It is not known to him, or indeed to many students, and so is worth recording, that this state of things was due to the somewhat tardy discovery that printing the “Bioarhie" as it had commenced, would entail on the publishers a heavy less. The scheme was accordingly terminated with a rapidity and a want of completeness fatal to the claims of the book to OCCT the foremost position which might otherwise have been assigned it. It is pleasant to find Mr. Christie, in the preface of his rolume, while dismissing as unimportant or inaccurate most references in Engash works to the subject of his biography, singling out for praise some essays upon Étienne Dolet which appeared in the Gentireza's Jazucine, Not less pleasant is it to hear a man who occupies a quasi-ecclesiastical position as Chancellor of the Diocese of Manchester, rebuking the ignorance and bigotry which are current in England, and speaking of Rabelais as “the great genius of the age," and asserting that "a word of praise from him is itself sufficient to conier an immortality.” That Mr. Christie should, in dealing with the life of the great printer and martyr, speak indignantly of what, in a phrase quoted in the book, Peacock calls "philoparaptesism -i... roasting by a slow fire for the love of God-is natural. His eloquent protest is none the less good to read in days like the present, wherein "an influential party, led by men of exalted rank and high culture, greatly regret and would gladly see restored” the times which celebrated Church festivals by such slaughter as that of Dolet. I, for one, share with Mr. Christie the comforting assurance that reactionary effort is futile and ridiculous, and that "an unsurpassable barrier is placed between the good old times and this nineteenth century."

SYLVANUS URBAN.

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CHAPTER XXXIII.
Desier was neither Faustus nor
Cornelius, that great conjuror :
For out of bale of blackest linen
That ever rascal wrapped a sin in,
He with Hey presto! would evoke
Some playful quip or honest joke,
So that the rogue who knew them lies
Would stand dumbfoundered with surprise
To see how falsehood lies no further
From truth than homicide from murther.
For what is Truth (he used to say),

But Falsehood turned the other way?
ELEN had been carried off into the drawing-room, to be

entertained by her hostesses until it should be time to summon the gentlemen from their wine to the tea-table. Everything had evidently been prepared for the reception of the new great lady, who had a house in town, in due form. But, with all their pride in being the aunts of such a nephew as Gideon and of such a niece as Helen, it was clear that the Miss Skulls, though in their own house, could not contrive to feel at home. The old themes of talk between the great house and the Rectory had faded out with all these years ; Helen had changed, and yet all that might have caused the change suggested nothing to say. She seemed, they could not help thinking, a great deal more like the brotherless orphan than like the heiress and the bride who ought to have been full of Gideon and Copleston, and eager to learn from her new aunts what she ought to think and VOL. CCXLIX, NO. 1800.

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