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the skilful damnation is the praise. It is much easier to damn and be interesting than to praise without making the reader drop the book; and Mr. Symons has achieved this hard task. His essays on Coleridge, Shelley, Keats and Wordsworth are amongst his finest. Thank goodness, one says in reading about Shelley, we have at last got away from the "beautiful, ineffectual angel"; in reading about Coleridge we are not worried by the great opium question; in the Keats Fanny Brawne Each makes a very brief appearance. poet is given his proper meed of approbation; and since we all like to know why we like poetry, and especially why we like the poetry of particular poets, these discussions will be gratefully read by lovers of Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats. I must not forget that Wordsworth, though he is a subject for fair discussion, is here discussed with a fairness that is much more fair than usual which is, indeed, generous.



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It would be ridiculous for me to find fault with Mr. Symons when ne is dealing with the subject of poetry the subject that he knows so much better than anyone. Yet I mean to quarrel slightly with him for his use of the word "Romantic." Of course, it is a word that has been abused with a great deal of thoroughness; since about 1830 it has been worked harder than any vocable in our language. is applied to a poem monly a mere piece of versification of which the subject is southern, or supernatural, or passionate in character; it is applied to young ladies who sigh for the days of Gretna Green; it other is a thousand used to mean things, so long as those things are not soiled by contact with the dull, workBut in art it has been aday world. used to define one phase of the great revival of the spirit of art which took place at the beginning of the nine

teenth century; and in extending its meaning so as to include other phases I cannot see that Mr. Symons has rendered literary or artistic men any good service. A word like "Romantic" had a meaning was no meaning until quite arbitrarily attached to it: we know what that meaning was, and though Stendahl came in to muddle matters, there seems to me no reason for qualifying all genuine art with the This is what adjective "Romantic."

Mr. Symons does. All genuine poetry, Why, he says, has been Romantic. then, Romantic? Why not, simply, poetry?



This is a question of terminology. It will come as a slight shock to many of Mr. Symons' readers to find Landor and Keats classed as Romantics. we ordinarily use the word they were not; but, of course, as Mr. Symons No one can uses the word, they were. deny that they shared in the great revival of poetry; and if Romantic must be applied to that revival, well then, Romantic they were. But in that case we need new words to define the very great difference between the marble, sculptured verse of Landor and the sinuous, sensuous music of Keats. will not attempt to argue the point, but simply go on to pass a few remarks on the most interesting book that has been put in my hands for a long time. I find the book chiefly interesting as the expression of the personality of one of the most interesting men it has been my good fortune to know, Mr. Arthur Symons. His joy in in the thing whether beautiful poetry, music, painting, or sculpture was always wonderful to witness; and here we find him positively revelling in beautiful things. He has tried to be critical, and he is critical in a much better sense of the word than he himself would admit. He says "Much fine literature has been written under the name of criticism. But for the critic

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to aim at making literature is to take off something from the value of his criticism as criticism. It may produce a work of higher value. But it will cease to be, properly speaking, what we distinguish as criticism." Of this statement Mr. Symons' own work is a flat contradiction: his criticism has its value as criticism because it is literature- because as a literary artist Mr. Symons can send home to us precisely what he feels and thinks about other literature. For example, no mere critic who was not a literary artist could tell us that "romance rose out of the grave of Chatterton." Could a writer who was not a literary artist say this?"He remains alone in English literature, to which he brought, in verse and prose, qualities of order and vehemence, of impassioned thinking and passionless feeling, not to be found combined except in his own work." Mr. Symons is speaking of Landor: does he wish to be judged as a critic or as a maker of literature? I judge him as a critic who becomes a maker of literature by The Saturday Review.

the mere exercise of his faculty of criticism. It is the literary man, not the critic, who speaks of Landor's "lofty homeliness of touch."

A hundred things might be quoted as illustrations of Mr. Symons' really marvellous way of combining criticism and literature. Apparently he contradicts himself at times, but the contradiction is never more than apparent: a few lines of explanation would make it all clear. Probably only those who have tried-as I have tried to put into words the sensations and thoughts aroused by great works of art will realize what a feat is here achieved. The great and little poets of a hundred years are summed up in a free, clear and more or less just fashion: the point of view is kept, though not, as I have said, fanatically, and not self-consciously. In the future, when people have given up reading English poetry, a habit which is fast dying out, they will read Mr. Symons' book, and so learn all about the poetry of one of the most important periods in the literary history of England.

John F. Runciman.


The Johnson commemoration has caused many persons to ask what has become of the art of conversation through which his great personality and powers of mind have come down to us in Boswell's inimitable record. The significance of such a question be- comes evident when we reflect how small and how unrepresentative a part of such a man his writings were. Though Johnson wrote in many styles, and on a great variety of themes, he can never be said to have devoted himself to literature, unless it be during his seven years' task-work on his dictionary. Finishing that in early middle-life, he spent very little of his time

and energy in writing. Nor was he a great reader, though he "tore out the heart" of a great many books.' He lived for conversation, in the society of friends, with an occasional incursion of enemies. With some qualification the same statement applies to most of the best-known writers of that day. To Burke, Goldsmith, Sheridan, literature was never an absorbing occupation. The living word figured more largely in the intellectual life of the time than the dead word. Why was this, and is it matter for regret? Perhaps we have even begged the question in treating the written word as dead. The issue rather may be

stated thus: "How far can a wise or witty man acquire and communicate his wisdom or his wit in live company with his fellows, and how far in the colder and more formal mode of literary composition?" It is, of course, evident that no general satisfactory answer can be given to such a question. It is, we shall be told, a question of the man, the matter, and the company. Some men's wit lies locked in the coffers of their slow-working brains. Such a man was Addison, who "had but sixpence in his pocket, though he could 'draw' for fifty pounds." Others, like Goldsmith, may do poor justice to themselves in presence of a dominant personality, though Boswell does not, in fact, sustain the libel of Sir Joshua. Then, again, there are matters too abstruse or complicated for successful conversation. Coleridge, in his broken age at Highgate, could discourse with copious facility upon "Omject" and "Sumject," but as Carlyle discovered, a visit to such a sage did not allow much give and take.


Indeed, we may doubt whether philosophers as such are fitted for conversation. For they will be apt to impose a too rigorous system of tests and standards upon each topic as it rises. Neither a professorial expatiation nor a Socratic dialogue is conversation. To put two or more intellectual persons in a room is evidently no guarantee of effective conversation. may smoke apart in silence for ૧ whole evening, as is no doubt falsely told of Tennyson and Carlyle, parting with the solitary remark, "Eh, mon, but we've had a grand evening." one may get his innings first and carry out his bat. There is no conversation when two continuous talkers meet under such circumstances as the famous meeting of Brougham and Macaulay, when the eager waiting for a break evoked from the French visitor the


whispered comment, "S'il tousse, il est perdu."

It is, indeed, often contended with some show of reason that conversation is too polite an art for Britons. If the practice of the renowned French salons be taken as authoritative, this would be true. The lightness of touch, the swift allusiveness, the easy changefulness of tone, admitting every sort of emotional expression and intellectual instrument, seriousness, pathos, irony, brief runs of logic, verbal play, even anger and invective, handling every matter, grave or gay, even holding fire for a brief moment in the hand-everything seems possible, if swift equal intercourse can be maintained among those who accept the conditions of "the game." For to Englishmen such an amicable intercourse of minds, expressing themselves with apparently complete spontaneity must always retain some air of artificiality. And indeed it is evident enough that the conversation of our clubs and coffee-houses, when they were used for free discussion, never approached this ideal of the salon. In the first place, too much of the tradition of the cock-pit prevailed in them. The finer French art was truly social; as much a co-operative art as the elaborate contre-dances of the age, it involved as much self-restraint as selfexpression. The topic must pass from mind to mind, from lip to lip, brightened, reversed, adorned, reshaped: no dogmatist must down it, no monopolist devour it, no fool degrade it. Now the conversation in the companies which Johnson frequented was not of such a kind nor devoted to such ends. It was too combative, too individualistic. There was doubtless much amenity, much excellent fellowship in these club or tavern gatherings, where a man could "fold his legs and have his talk out" among friends whom he met regularly, whose frets and foibles he well

understood, and who were accustomed to sharpen their wits on one another. But "contending for victory" is apt to damage the finer fruits of conversation: sound argument becomes entangled with sophistry, facts are distorted, and false analogies, flourished with brilliancy, too often win the day. In Johnson's prime there was too much of this gladiatorial display. A meeting between the Doctor and Burke was no doubt magnificent, but it could hardly be called conversation. "That fellow," he said at a time of illness, "calls forth all my powers. Were I to see Burke now it would kill me."

Yet even in such contests, though the note of controversy was too much stressed, there was great gain. "Thurlow is a fine fellow, he fairly puts his mind to yours." Here, after all, lies the true worth of conversation. No reading of books, no printed disputation, can take the place of this direct intellectual contact. How much is lost by the failure of modern society to make adequate provision for this fruitful interchange of thought! "Modern society," wrote Mr. Leslie Stephen, "is too vast and too restless to give a conversationalist a fair chance. For the formation of real proficiency in the art, friends should meet often, sit long, and be thoroughly at ease." They do none of these things, and they think they cannot. But they are mistaken, they are slaves of superstitious valuations of time and methods. In the struggle between the spoken and the written word the latter has of recent times gained an evil ascendency; the knowledge of human nature and of life which can only come through personal intercourse, and which is even falsified by the bookish life, is gravely under-rated. Among the educated professional classes, in particular, bookish specialization has gone far, not, indeed, to breed a race of recluses, but to banish serious matter from all or

dinary intercourse, and to keep conversation upon settled conventional planes. Indeed, if one reflects for a single moment upon the accepted code of polite society to-day, its intellectual sterility becomes evident. In an age

of specialism it is "bad form" to talk shop, that is, to discuss what one knows best and what is most likely to inform others; any sustained allusions to religion, food, sex relations, or even politics are placed under a ban which extends to all the deeper and more serious affairs of life. Of course, grave matters are broached, for their avoidance would be impossible, but their sensational surface alone is subject to discussion; there must be no attempt to open up inner meanings, or to focus reflection. We are not here thinking of the frivolous or lightheaded majority whose conversation remains what it ever was, and is at any rate sincere, a fairly free expression of shallow thought and feelings.

It is among those who must be called the "intellectuals" that the defect, and even falsity, of conversation is So strongly marked. A light tone of banter, with a studied avoidance of depths, a perpetual recourse to the formal minutiae of the intellectual life, talk "about" scholars, artists, playwrights and their works, anything to escape the big and really interesting issues which everywhere are lurking underneath our conscious life!

The cause is partly timidity, but largely a mischievous and even a morose secretiveness, a really selfish refusal to give oneself away in any truly free and generous talk, to contribute to any cooperative effort to clear thought or win truth, accompanied by a distrust in this social mode of intellectual effort. It is sometimes maintained that, in a day when most men of intellect are writers, words of wit and wisdom are deliberately withheld for the profitable uses of the lit

erary market. If it were so, one might urge that some enlightened Chancellor of the Exchequer should impose an undeveloped brain-tax, in order to stop such a churlish policy.

But we fear the real trouble is deeper-seated. The collapse of the art of conversation, we surmise, belongs to a state of society which is inimical to the true art of friendship. For real conversation is only possible among friends of long and settled intimacy The Nation.

whose sympathy is both deep and wide-ranged. Under modern conditions of "civilized" life a circle of such friends becomes a rarity: division of labor, change of residence, the excessive demands of print, the elaborated organization of interests, the spread of material luxury in a word, the restlessness and dissipation of our liferender very difficult that sort of intercourse of friends in which conversation of the best sort can really flourish.



The self-governing Colonies of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand having determined that the time has arrived when they might fittingly take a share in the naval defence of the Empire, a scheme has been formulated by which this may be done. Unfortunately it has been impossible for the three Colonies to arrive at a common understanding as to the best method in which to bear a portion of the burden of Imperial defence, and each will therefore act as seems best for its own particular requirements and without much reference to what the remaining portions of the Empire are doing. is no longer a secret that the course the British representatives at the recent Conference upon Imperial Defence would have preferred the Colonies to take would have been for them to grant an annual subsidy for the maintenance of adequate fleets off their various coasts, these fleets to have been manned, equipped, and administered by the British Board of Admiralty at Whitehall. The result of the Conference showed however that only New Zealand was favorable to this course being adopted, and that both Canada and Australia had other views as to their future attitude towards Imperial naval defence. Thus it comes about

that while New Zealand will continue her annual subvention to the Navy of £100,000, Australia will take over the whole of the cost of maintaining the fleet in its waters, and will adminster the fleet independently of Whitehall, while Canada will adopt a somewhat similar course. It is understood, of course, that both the Canadian and the Australian squadrons will act side by side with the Imperial fleet in time of war, though during peace they will be separately organized and administered. This is not perhaps an ideal arrangement, but it is the only one that the Colonies felt themselves able to accept, and it is upon these lines, therefore, that the work will be carried out.

The first work that is to be taken in hand is to be the establishment of a new Pacific fleet. This fleet, when it comes into existence, will be unique, since it will be maintained jointly by the British, Australian, and New Zealand Governments. Ultimately it is to be made up of three cruiser-battleships of the Indomitable type, nine protected cruisers of the Bristol class, eighteen destroyers of the River type, and nine large submarines. This fleet will be divided into three squadrons, to be based upon Bombay, Hong Kong, and Sydney, and known as the East In

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