7 JULY 1894, Page 24


Pro TEE EDITOR OF THE BFROTATOR:a SIR,"-A sentence in your notice of Mrs. Tollemache's "Diderot," opens a curious question. "In these days," you say, " nearly every one who is likely to. read such a work knows enough French to read it in the original." I should have been of the same opinion, if I had not taken note of the great popularity of Mrs. Humphry Ward's translation of "Amid." Some years ago, a friend, who had wintered in the Riviera, where all the English might be expected to know French, told me that he met—I think—three persons who were reading the "Journal Intime " in Mrs. Ward's translation. After spending sixteen winters at Biarritz, and lending books to those who ask for them, my wife and I have some experience in these matters. We are startled to find how many persons there are (especially retired men of business) whose education is stunted and, as it were, lopsided, and who like to read and talk about intellectual subjects, while yet they sometimes betray an ignorance which makes one stare. This remark especially applies to a late banker from Chicago, whose daughter had been twice married to French husbands, the second of them being a prominent French politician. Although the old man had lived fourteen years in France, yet not only had he never mastered the language, but when he read at Biarritz an English translation of Lamartine's " Les Girondins," the subject seemed quite new to him. He said to my wife in his odd American way, but with genuine horror and amazement,—" If I had known that the French had been so wicked I would never have let my daughter marry a Frenchman ! "—I am, Sir, &c.,


Hotel Sonnenberg, Engelberg, July 3rd.