PRINCIPAL SHAIRP ON MATTHEW ARNOLD.
[To THE EDITOR OF THE " SPECTATOR:1 Sin—Is there not some mysterious mistake in the passage
which appeared as a quotation from Principal Shairp, in the published report of Lord Coleridge's address at Westminster Abbey on Matthew Arnold ? You have yourself quoted from
it in your fine article in the Spectator of November 7th, and have so far felt its inaccuracy as to protest : " Principal Shairp was quite wrong." Did it not, however, occur to you that it might be some one else who was in fault, and not the Principal,. whose knowledge of the man and his writings had been both intimate and critical ? It would be strange indeed if Shairp could so have misread his author, nor is it less strange that such a version as appeared in the Times, and from which I presume you quoted, could anyhow have got itself published as Shairp's estimate.
So far as I can find, there have been but two issues of the poem, Balliol Scholars,"—first in Macmillan's Magazine, March, 1873, and again in the collected "Poems" (Macmillan,. 1888). In both of these the stanza runs thus :-
" So full of power, yet blithe and debonair, Rallying his friends with pleasant banter gay, Or half a-dream chaunting with jaunty air Great words of Goethe, catch of Beranger. We see the banter sparkle in his prose, But knew not then the undertone that flows, So calmly sad, through all his stately lay."
Of these seven lines, only two are given correctly in the Times,.
and the last of them lends its sanction to your judgment that Arnold's characteristic was " a lofty and calm regret."—I am, Sir, &c.,
[Lord Coleridge's version, as given by the Times, certainly seems to have no authority in Mr. Shairp's revised poem. Perhaps Lord Coleridge has some earlier version which Principal Shairp himself saw to be unsatisfactory, and cor- rected when preparing it for the general public.—ED. Spectator.]