13 FEBRUARY 1915, Page 23


Tar tenth edition of Bartlett'* Familiar Quotations makes wonderfully good reading. It combines the charms of a dictionary and an anthology. As he turns over the pages assigned to each author even the best-rend man will find some unfamiliar quotations to add to his mental store, though there is no reader but will regret the absence of some favourite of his own. The present writer, for instance, cannot help remarking that there is nothing from Oliver Cromwell. Hardly any one, we think, will be bored. The publics taste has been well gauged, and the editor has not forgotten that the mission of every anthologist is to educate. The public is no doubt what Thomas Hardy's hero called "a nice unparticular man"; but, on the whole, the public is a good judge, and, like all good judges, not too self- satisfied to accept a little guidance. It never likes a bad thing for long, it cares a good deal about style, and it will not be wearied. From a literary point of view, there is with the public) little "abusing of God's patience and the king's English."

In snob a book as this we find of necessity a great deal that is hackneyed. " It was tawny yet the trick of our English

• revolter Quotations t a Collection of Peewee.. Pim... and Proorrbe Traced io their Bourse. in Ancient end Madero kiteretore. By.John Bartlett Tenth Edition, Retired acct Enlarged by Nathan neaten Ent. Pardon: Macmillan end Ca Cat Oct seta nation, if they have a good thing to make it too common,* said Shakespeare ; but to deny the general merit of the "too common " in literature is simply to exalt the greatness of ell the literature about which there is, no consensus of opinion. The really great masters, especially these who stand a little way off from us, never become entirely trite. The "large utterance of the early gods" is little spoiled by repetition. Our editor towards the end of his collection has given es a great deal of verse by new and smaller poets, by way, we suppose, of bring- ing the book up to date. He has been, we think, wonderfully fortunate in his choice, and gives the lie very, effectually to the few remaining pedants who have no tolerance for new verse. Lowell's lines picture truly their attitude; bat were they not too "sour and lofty" to study their contemporaries they would change it:— "Nature, they say, cloth dote,

And can not make a man Save on some worn-out plan, Repeating us by rote."

Among the quite modern things, T. E. Brown's "a Garden is a lovesome thing" is truly charming, and a verse of Thomas Hardy's which we quote at length deserves its " familiarity," if it has it, which we doubt :--

" Whence comes solace? Not from seeing, What is doing, suffering, being;

Not from noling Life's conditions, Not from heeding Ttum's monitions I

But in cleaving to the Dream

And in gazing at the Gleam

Whereby gray things golden seem."

Riley's "Beetle " is hardly less charming k.— " O'er folded blooms

On swirls of musk, The beetle booms adown the gloom'

And bumps along the dusk."

Going backwards a little way, and still keeping to the smaller verse-makers, we come across one who certainly was no poet at all, one of the "nice unparticular man's" very worst mistakes—Martin Tapper. Even here, however. our editor has dug out of the trash a good sentence "Who can wrestle against Sleep ?—Yet is that giant very gentleness."

American verse-writers are, of coarse, very well repre- sented, since the book emanated originally from America. We are rather surprised by four very good lines from Mrs. Stowe, two of which are certainly poetry. Under the wild commotion of the worst. storm it is said that the sea is always calm— "And no rude storm, bow fierce eee'er it Spelt,

Disturbs the Sabbath of that deeper sea."

From Holmes we get, as we should expect, some beautiful verse, and a curiously graceful little bit of prose, in the form of a letter written to Julia Ward Howe on her seventieth birthday : "To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old." How enviable to be able to write such a letter as that ; but truly it is one of those small inspirations calculated to tern the head of the recipient. Who would not become crazy with literary vanity could he have written each a thing? As we turn over these American writers of the near past a very shrewd saying of Lincoln's must catch our eye: "Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them." And another striking phrase from Winthrop stands not far off " There are no points of the compass on the chart of true patriotism." Would there were not I But there meat always be parties in every country though we preach with "forty-parson power." That last. quotation, which seems to modern ears to smack of the motor-ear, is from Byron.

Going back further still, and still keeping away from the greatest poets, we get a quatrain from the Earl of Rochester worthy of notice, and not, we should have said, very well known, though we remember Sir Stafford Northeote quoting it in biz Budget speech. It is exactly the sort of thing which the public, in lighter mood likes :—

" It's a very good world that we live in,

To tend, or to spend, or to give in;

But to beg or to borrow, or get a man's Own,

It is the very worst world that over was known.".

We are inclined to think that in this part of the book there arc too few prose quotations. By the by, do most people know

• We base made our or two alight correction is the lerehen given in the Woke

that it was Swift, not Matthew Arnold, who first wrote of "sweetness and light "f What a strange irony! We think that the prose quotations are not quite so well selected as those in verse. Johnson, for instance, could have been better represented. We quote, however, one sentence, which may or may not be familiar to our readers, but which is certainly not hackneyed, and is truly Johnsonian. "His conversation does not show the minute-hand, but he strikes the hour very correctly." To ran forward again, Carlyle said much which is both more brilliant and better known and lends itself better to quotation than the selections here given. One scrap out of Sartor Resartus is, we think, less familiar than it ought to be. " What you see, yet can not see over, is as good as infinite."

In some sense all the Elizabethans are "great" Once in those spacious times we must hesitate to divide between the great and greater. Heywood's " Out of God's blessing into the warese Surma" is a delicious picture of spiritual and physical wellbeing worth reading a whole anthology to become familiar with; and just at this moment Sir Philip Sidney's martial words stir a chord that may make us exaggerate their import: "I never heard the old song of Percy and Douglas (Cheep Chace] that I found not my heart moved more than with a trumpet."

No two people will agree as to what is best and most familiar in the work of Shakespeare. Suffice it to say that. the reader will be moved to ever-fresh astonishment and admiration by what he finds set out before him here. From the great moderns it is also very hard to quote aright. Let us begin at the bottom of the list and take Longfellow. We think he wrote less commonplace verse than any here given, of which the best line is to us an unfamiliar one :—

" The long mysterious exodus of death."

Mrs. Browning contributes some striking lines, but either she is not a great favourite with our anthologist, or he thinks that little of her work could be called "familiar." Her criti- cism of the religious side of Chaucer strikes no as full of insight, It should be familiar— "Chaucer, with his infantine Familiar clasp of things divine."

Matthew Arnold is fairly well represented, and two lines may be quoted as particularly apt at this moment:—.

"Peace, peace is what I seek and public calm, Endless extinotion of unhappy hates."

His poetry, of course, can never be popular. He can never be on intimate terms with the "nice unpartionha man." If he finds a place in his heart, he gains it by delighting his ear. Keats, Shelley, Tennyson, Wordsworth, and Browning fill many pages; but we leave the reader to delight in what is given him of them, and sigh over what is not, at his leisure.