Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

men.

[ocr errors]

ment in connection with a High School. Literature.” Some extracts from it It was pointed out that the present run as follows: High School system tended to give the “ Complaint was made at the recent pupils a distaste for farm life and to literary banquet of the amount of space lead them into the already over-crowd given to sports in the daily newspapers, ed professions; that the Renfrew High especially as compared with the space School was commodious enough for given to eulogies on Canadian literary the purpose, that it was close to a The newspapers may plead that creamery and to the broad acres of a in this respect they are in good comfarm, and that an agricultural course pany. When one literary man writes might be tried which would last dur of others, his work is more likely to ing January, February and March, take the form of a dunciad than of a closing in time for spring farm work. eulogy. And the great writers do by

The only real difficulty lay in the no means clisdain to “run a sporting fact that there was no teacher to do the column.” When in the course of his work. The Board of Education took wanderings Ulysses sits among the the matter up and wrote the Minister Phæacians, the song of the blind minof Education at Toronto concerning strel makes him weep for his home-a the project. They

eulogy which ought asked that he supply

to have satisfied the the teacher--a gra

most exacting bard. duate of the Ontario

He is asked whether. Agricultural College

he will not try his —and the expenses of

skill in some game, the experiment. The

and banish his Minister thought the

care; and when he season too far ad

declines is taunted vanced for the experi

with looking more ment, and there the

like a trader than one matter rests.

who can wrestle or It is to be hoped

box.

This that the Minister of

is only one instance, Education and the

taken at random. Minister of Agricul

What would Greek ture will fully con

and Latin literature sider this important THE LATE HORATIO HALE, F.R.S. be with the Olympic suggestion and devise

games, the chariot some plan whereby some experiment races, the boxing and wrestling, and such as this may be voluntarily car running all left out? ried out in any Ontario High School “To come down to the moderns, it which is situated in the centre of an was the chariot race than made Ben agricultural district. Ten thousand Hur famous. Ivanhoe teems with dollars spent in this way might mean matter that a good sporting editor hundreds of thousands to the province. would delight in. To say nothing of It is certain that something must be the tournament and the mêlée, there is done to reform our High School system. the passage describing the bout be

tween Gurth and the Miller in the noble

game of quarter-staff, where the comSPORT IN LITERATURE

batants were so quick and dexterous

and made the greenwood so ring with Some sharp criticism of Canadian the sound of their blows that you newspapers was made at the “Cana would have supposed there were “six dian Magazine " banquet, one result of persons engaged on each side.” There which was an editorial in the Toronto is the archery contest, where the great Globe, under the heading, “Sport in English outlaw splits the willow wand,

[graphic]

" THE BROKEN MELODY."

( A Cartoon by S. Hunter.)

the minister arrives on the scene he hears two weavers and a mason cursing the land,' illustrating the democracy of the ice, and is told a story of the marvellous recuperative power

[graphic]

the game.

“On reflection, we are inclined to ask our literary men and artists whether they might not profitably pay a little more attention to Canadian sports. How many of our authors have tried their hands at a description of the national game of lacrosse? How many pictures of the mighty struggles that occur around the goal are to be found among innumerable yards of canvas devoted to conventional subjects and to scenes that might be located anywhere from China to Peru? The sculptor has much to contend with

in the modern garb of SALISBURY (as Signor Sherman tries it on the piano): What a

mankind ; it seems to beautiful thing that would be if that rattle-trap instru

be a misdirection of arment did not so rob it of all “ harmony."

tistic energy when he is

employed in carving out “ rather thicker than a man's thumb,” a frock coat and trousers bulged at the at a hundred yards. There is the scene knees. But the human athlete (anywhere the jolly hermit and the distin where but on a wheel) is still a worthy guished King exchanged blows in per- object for his chisel.” fect good humour, and “the buffet of the Knight was given with such strength and good will that the Friar NEWSPAPERS AND POSTAGE. rolled head over heels upon the plain.” It was an exceedingly pitiful sight to

“Pickwick' was begun with the see, in Toronto on February 4th and idea of describing the adventures of a

5th, the leading newspaper men of Onsporting club, and traces of this inten- tario endeavouring to justify class legistion may be found in the adventure with lation and to show reasons why they the tall brown horse, in Mr. Winkle's should not assist the Postmaster-Genuulucky effort to skate and in his still

eral in carrying out a reform. About more unhappy adventures with a gun. seventy of them had assembled at the

annual meeting of the Canadian Press “ Barrie's Little Minister has Association, and the main topic up for famous description of curling. When consideration was the proposal of the

a

Hon. Mr. Mulock that it was desirable circumstances, and hence these should in the interests of the country that a not be changed. Arguing along this small rate of postage should be paid by line, it would be equally just to say those newspapers which made use of that the duties on manufactures of cotthe mails. The subject was discussed tons and woollens should remain as at considerable length and a resolution they are; for have not mills been built, was passed, by a vote of 44 to 18, to capital invested, and prices adjusted the effect that the association disap under present circumstances? Again, proves of the payment of postage by it would-arguing as the newspapernewspaper publishers. Later, when it men, the leaders of Canadian thought, was felt that postage would be reim argued—it would be unfair to every posed in any event, another resolution, Canadian importer to change the slightly more consistent, was passed, to duties on Canadian goods, because the the effect that if postage was imposed value of all his importations would be the duty should be taken off presses, seriously affected by any reduction in type and paper.

import duties; and yet one half or more No one had hardihood enough, ex of these same newspaper men have for cept two or three clerical editors, to many years been advocating reductions maintain that the absolute principle of in duties. the free use of the mails by newspaper It is exceedingly strange how our publishers could be justified on any righteous anger is changed to strange ground; but the main reason advanced solicitude when our own pockets are in favour of retaining the present sys

threatened instead of our neighbour's. tem was that the publishers had ad Self-interest makes cowards of us all. justed prices to existing conditions and

John A. Cooper.

[blocks in formation]
[graphic]

THE BOOK OF THE NATIVE.*

A POET who has had sufficient encouragement from the public and the pub

lishers to give the world four volumes of verse must be taken seriously. It is time that he was either checked in his song flights or encouraged and stimulated by just appreciation to yet loftier work. "The Book of the Native" is a new volume of lyrical poetry by Charles G. D. Roberts, and the quality of it is such that we are going to judge it, not as verse done by a young bard of promise in a young land of promise—for a poet in his fourth volume must have achieved something, or he is unworthy of consideration-but by the same standards that we would use in a criticism of a work of Wordsworth, or Shelley, or Tennyson.

At the outset we may say that we are fully aware of the difficulties that lie in our way in judging thus a living writer. His poetry has not yet become a part of our life and character ; and, indeed, while this is being written it is doubtful if the lyrics about to be examined are known to a hundred thoughtful men and women. We know, too, how easily we may deceive ourselves ; how our judg. ment may be the judgment of enthusiasm, of admiration, of gratitude, of sympathy-judgments against which Matthew Arnold would warn us. We know, too, that in attempting to write on the work of a friend we may unwittingly do that friend serious harm by our biased criticism. We keep before our minds the riotous enthusiasm of the worshippers of Shelley, which called forth a piece of one-sided and unjust criticism from no less a critic than Matthew Arnold, a criticism which has doubtless closed many minds to the beauties of Shelley's poetry, and to his true position as a force in literature. We have, therefore, in reading “ The Book of the Native,” kept watch over our enthusiasm, and at every step have asked how much of the personal factor has entered into this or that judgment. Therefore, in order to keep our judgment temperate on a book that has stirred us more deeply than any volume of poetry we have read in many days, we will first examine closely its demerits.

The note in these verses is too often borrowed. It would seem that the author, when reading poetry, was seized by the music of the poet, and found words of his own accompanying that music. He has lived much with Wordsworth, and many of the poems have a Wordsworthian tone and colour and phrasing. Such diction as “mendicants of summer," "soft incommunicable," " of incommunicable rhyme,” is so Wordsworthian that the poet should have recognized the imitative character of the work and rejected the words suggested by contact with the master. “Beside the Winter Sea," a piece of exquisite pathos,

* " The Book of the Native," by Charles G. D. Robe ts. Boston : Lamson, Wolffe & Co. Toronto : The Copp. Clarke Co.

full and sweet, might be considered altogether great wer

ere it not that in the opening lines we hear too distinctly the voice of a dead master :

“ As one who sleeps, and hears across his dream
The cry of battles ended long ago,

Inland I hear the calling of the sea." And these are not the worst defects ; several times, not often, we meet with distinct weakness. It is hard to pardon such a line as

· But for lulum say read libros." That “say " can have no forgiveness. Again, in “ Love's Translator " we have :

“A sudden warmth awakes my blood

Thinking of thy mouth." Such lines as these are too trivial in fancy and too sensuous in expression. It is true that these weak lines occur in poems in lighter vein, and might under other circumstances have passed unnoticed ; but coming upon them in a volume of strong thought, of serious verse, of art as chaste and severe as a Greek temple, they shock us as would profanity during the singing of a Te Deum.

The faults just mentioned we cannot condone, but the fault of imitation is another matter. There is nothing in which it seems to us contemporary critics are so unjust as in their eagerness to find the thought, the rhythm and the phrasing of the masters in any new volume. It is cheap criticism, easily done, and takes with a public that has a few stock ideas on literature. Of course if a man is nothing but an imitator do not waste time with him ; go to the fountain head for enlightenment. But every great poet has been more or less of an imitator. Pope is full of the classical poets and Dryden ; Goldsmith is an imitator of his English predecessors and of the Latin poets ; Shakespeare got much of his manner from Marlowe and Greene ; Wordsworth, in some of his most admired poems, has calmly accepted the rhythm, the verse form, the thought, the phrasing of Burns; and Tennyson has in his best poetry a mixed Miltonic and Wordsworthian music, and a form and colouring captured from Theocritus, with, of course, an added Tennysonian manner. Every great artist is, then, an imitator ; the ages have been working to some purpose, and no poet can afford to ignore what has been well done by his predecessors. He must, if he would do abiding work, accept what they have done, and find the voice with which he is to speak to his own time and the future.

Roberts, we believe, has found that voice. He sits reverently at the feet of Wordsworth and Tennyson, but in many of his poems there is a note that is distinctly his own. We find that note in such a stanza as :

Tell me how some sightless impulse,

Working out hidden plan,
God for kin and clay for fellow

Wakes to find itself a man." Or in “ Laughed the running sap in every vein, Laughed the life in every wandering root,

Laughed the running flurries of warm rain, Laughed the tingling cells of bud and shoot.

“ God in all the concord of their nirth

Heard the adoration-song of earth."
Or again in
“ Hark! the leaves their mirth averring, “ Hark! the sharp, insistent cry
Hark! the buds to blossom stirring ;

Where the hawks patrol the sky !
Hark! the hushed, exultant baste

Hark! the flapping, as of banners, of the wind and world conferring !

Where the heron triumphs by.' The voice that we hear in these lines, taken almost at random, has been steadily growing in the author's seventeen years and more of earnest poetic work.

« PředchozíPokračovat »