Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1770-1963 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the
National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. external link Learn more
Image provided by: State Historical Society of Missouri; Columbia, MO
Newspaper Page Text
SUNDAY MAGAZINE for JUNE II. 190
',uetio:i. imt of them needle-, anil a few of tin 1 frc-h ami tent- and -inj:n.int. The adroit writer cannot ilo 1 tetter than accept the advice pro'Tcrod by one of tin- sagc-st of M!i re's chara tor Ari-te in the ,"ScIioii for Husbands" who declares th.it it is ?t-st to follow the fahion -duwly in language as well a in clothes. Ami another comic dramat-st. Hen Jonon. who rivals Moli. re in hi-. -.ti-nmon-sen-e. puts the oae pithilv a- iva his wont, when lie as-crtcd that "custom is the mit certain mistress of language, as the public stamp makes the current money. Hut wo mn-t not It- too frequent with the mint, every ilay coining, nor fetch words from the ex treme and uttermost ages. sir.ee the chief virtue of a style is perspicuitv. ami nothing mp vicious in it as to neeil an inleqreter. Words lmrruwed "i antiquity i!o lend a kind of majesty to stylo, an.l are not without their delight -ometimes. For they have the authority of years, ami out of their inter mission do win them-clves a kiml of grace-like newness. Hut the eldest of the present, ami newest of the past language, is the best." The French, who have le-- initiative than the twin-peoples that speak Knglish. have yicMctl au thonty to the Frciith Acailemy. founded by Kit hclic-u. to act as tlic guardian ami trustee of the language Whenever a word or a phrase has I -con passed ujion hy the Acailemy ami admitted to citizenship, then its validity is plated lt-yond all lUcstiou. Hut there is no French dictionary, even if it is edited iiy a moiulfr of the Aiailemy. which does not include thousands of locutions not yet warranted by the amval of the Aade:ny ;i a whole Ami there are feu of the individual mem-It-rs of the Academy v. ho do not uo unhesitatingly a host of wonls which they h.ive not yet sanctioned collectively. Thus it is that the Academy lags far liehiml the lest usage as established hy its own tneuuVrs. Thus al- we six how futile :i Kich-t-heu's e'iort to confide the tare of the language to any ldy of men. however tom-ftont or however distinguished. Xo dikes ,a:i Ik et to the over turning forces which ever are hroadening the com mon sj.cech. at le.tst no arti:iti.:l embankments are elective for long. The sole restraint must In-sought in thecominon-M'Hse. the tact and the tastein whnh Hen Joiison and Mohcrc wioly jut their trust. There is Mgnil'uan.e in the fact that not a few of the momlfrs of the French Academy employ frcelv many phrases not approved by the august tribunal to which they It-long. Many authors of the most scholarly distinction have delighted to keep their talk vigorous, even if their writing was tilt rare-titled. Tennyson had a relish for the homely veru.li ular. and used the ilaimst words, on casioti finding a keen delight in their unadorned directness He toM Oarlyle ojne that if any m.m-on-horsihaik any masterful Duke William, should appear in F.uglaml to curb jhtsou.i1 li t-rty. "he"l xnui feci my knife in his guts." Ami in Professor Pock's rot cut and most admirable biography of i'rescott we are told of the fondness of that slatolv ami soiurou historian for the f-ank colloquialisms :" his station and of his time No doubt Pretott found in these siiatthos of slang a wholesome cor rective lor that Johnsonian grandiloquent c toward uhn h he was tempted ly his early training. Professor Pock point out that in his first !k. the '"History of Ferdinand ai.il Isalt-lla." published in .s;7- "l'reso:t had not vet emancipated himself from that formalism which had Kin inherited from the eighteenth- cut ury writers, ami which Amcri ans with the wonted conservatism of jirovitnial. retameil long after Knglislimcn had It-gun to write with naturalness ami simj.lnitv " And in the jiref.n to the s,-, oful sprits of the " Higclow Pajt-rs." written thirty years after 1 rcsc .; t ' first history. Lowell assorted "that the g-e.lt vi e of Amcriian writing and sj-.iking was a studjeil want of sim Init that we were in danger of coining to !k on o.ir mother tongue as a dead language, to It anight in the grammar and Inttotiary rather than m the heart " Lowell went on to sav that "it i only from its piots s-j :J,C H-in generation that a language 4 an lie riforted with fresh vtgic for its needs; wli.it tn.iv lt c.illtsl a literate diale t grows ever more ami more ;tilantic ami foreign, till it l-s :..- at last as untitling a vehiile for living though: a monki-h Latin" F.lsewhere in the s.i"n ltitp-luitm:: Iiwell ds.larcd that "there is death in the dii tinnarv." and that "true igor and luartmess of phrase do not jiass from ;age to pagt . !i: from :nan to :nan. when the hratn is km He! ami the lips Jupplied by downright living interests ' j Atter praising LimJa" ":ruly :nas uliiie ling !:sh. vlassj, Itecnti'e i: was of no iettal jt'rioil ami level at once to the highest ami the lowest of his tountrymcn." Lowell voncd his scom !f mn gressional grandilo-.ueme In the two -iw years sunc Lowell wrote this indictment, there lias K-eti an evident improvement in the directness of our puMic sj-eaking and in the app-eciatioti of dirivt nes. Homhast there is in plenty still, and "talking for Ituncom!." also; hut the evil intluence of Web ster's orotund manner, wholly utisuttcd to men less amply framed than lie. scents to If passing away, liven if we have now m public speaker who can attain at will to the noble and lofty simplicity of Lincoln, there is satisfaction in recalling that our Secretary of State is the author of the nny "I'ike I'ov.nty Hallads." and that our President is the au thor of the vivid and pkturos.iv.o "Winning of the West." The stvle of Mr. K-scveIl and of Mr. Hay. oath excellent in its own fashion, is tin style of a gentleman and of a scholar, no doubt, but it is also the stylo of a man- of a man not stifled in a library, but alert and alive by rea-on of friendly contact with his fellow-men. Stnh also is the stle of more than one of our younger university presi dents, in whose public uttcran.vs we tint I an ap ppiath at least ''to the ideal "sjtxvh of the people in the mouth of the scholar." It is pleasant also to note tliat the two authors who now have the. widest j"pularity among the jfoples that sjt-ak F.nglish. the two writers of our language whose fame seems most solidly established. Mark Twain ami Rudyard Kipling, are It.th of them anxious always to get into the printed page as much as possible of the elemental energy of the sjken word. Hoth of them are verbal craftsmen of surpasing skill, lt-mling wonls to their bidding; and I Kith of them are ever on the alert to avoid the merely txiokish and the emptily literate. It is to le no to I al-o that Mark Twain is an American, and that Kudyard Kipling still reveals the intluence exerted on him in his youth by the Amcriian story tellers from whom he learned his trade when he was serving his apprenticeship in India. This may be taken as evidence that the w iters of the I'nited States have come to a lt-tter understanding of the WHEN-OUR SHIP. COMES IK By Grace G. Bos&icftl We Jre.im of the nHe tilings e "It J. of the ln-Itul uitJs ue"ll sj. Of the hearts we'll sheer anJ the huns we'll mciii. When iur slup cumes up the hiy. But alas f.r the Jay tlut is passing .y With ne or a kinJIy JceJ : AnJ al.is f(ir the hearts that are hrer-king ntw l".r the want of kinj worjs to sceJ! Wo tell of the wonJrous gifts o"ll gue To the helpless anJ suk anJ pir. Huw n me tlut may want shall l-e tumeJ away l"rn the shelter of our J.r: Hut we wait tor oar ship tlut nexer comes in. AnJ we let the ears go lv. Till our kmJ thoughts taJe iti the misty past AnJ our Ji'ipos in the KtaxeyarJ l:e Then rra". let us Jo wlut we cm each Jay To lighten earth's sorrow anJ care. Let usstaileatiJ speak ktnJlynJ strive as we may To g:o of ourselves a stun ; 1'iir our slup is like castles in Spain, our own As long as the Jream may last: But when Jrcarns shj. the:r anchor anJ Jntt aay Thctr white satis are ltt in the past. tr:e prinapies of rhetoric. They seem : have reiiouinetl the lorig-tatlcd Johnsonese, most jn tlerous and most ttlautic of dialects, in which our fathers delighted only half a icnlury ago. Perhaps tiiis impp.vement in American style s title in part to the disestablishment of the tin tion.iry as a 'inal authority and to the dicpwuing of the gnrntnar as the sole ir.onan.lt of all it sv.rvt-yn' Pirhaps it is due to the growing peri option that the spoken language is franker, fresher and rrccr ili.fi tlie written. The old grammars were absurdK arbitrary and sclf-sufin icnt in the rules thev laid i low n and in the way they sought to slunkle the healthy growth of the language. They were guilty of the tinpan tollable sin of declaring that Shakts pe.ire anil the translators of the F.nvlish Hil-V had committed faults of grammar, as if nice n: loins did not curtsy to gre:i: kings. These nit J fashioned grammarians arrogated to thein-elvi the privilege of saying that this Usage v. as rig! ami that usage wrong, instead of contenting them selves with the humbler task of recording the several usages whit h thev might find in the p.igt s of the masters of Knglish. A lomparison of two American grammars Lindlev Murrav's and the more ret cut volume bv Protess,,r ". K. t'arpentcr. will serve to show how tar v e h.te ailvam otl. for the later author is modest and ten: i live where the earlier is arngant ami dorcmccrini The trouble with these outwoni grammars ami rhetorics was nl merely that they laid an lntcrdn ' tin tertaiu locutions, but that their tone was always pmhibithe. They kept on dot hiring that this or that must not ! done. Their advice was mainlv negative, and thus it tended always to t ramp ami to sli'Vn. They orderol us to shun double nega tives and split infinitives and final prejiiiion.s a if mere avoidance of ctTor would ever give sine" tt a phrase. They set up fabe standards ami the result was that "st hoolmastcr's Knglish" It-tamo a term of reproach. I" r it desertliil a stxle junelesss ami nerveless, a style unfit for hard work a stjle whit h was as remote as juissihlo from the terse vigor of at tual speech. These false standards are not ol wholly cast tmt; ami there are still sold here in the I" intcd States every year thousands of text tua.ks which lay down rules of mi real validity, and whith tell t lie st tti lent what not to say. instead of helping him to say what he wants. Hut although this is unfortunately true, it is true also that in m department of education has the impro emetit lteti more obvious than in the tcathing of Kngli.h Attention is now rarely called to the "grammatical errors" of Shakespeare, and the callow student is not now ptr'ttl i with the toticeit that he know . more alft'.t the Knglish language than the mighty masters who made it what it is. Three t outlines ago. Samuel Daniel, the ft-la:i-rente of King James, made i prophetic iivitury Anil who in time knows w hither we tnav vert TI.e treasures of our tongue' t uli.it strange short-s Tlie gain t.t tmr ltt glory m.v If cnt To enrich unknowing nations with our siim -J What world in the Vrt tinforiT.tsl Oifi-Unt May coino retinetl with atients tli.it are ot:rsJ Not only in the "unformed Occident" but tin t lu st range shores of the 1 Irieilt also are the treasures of teir tongue now eiirnhing nations unknown when iMuicl rimed those lines. And here it is that Knglish is favored alve all other languages, that it is sf.iken not merely in a single ompaet count rv but by two groat jt-oples with their many outposts on all the seven se:is. There is thus the less danger that the language may stagnate. There is thus a far greater variety of souries of refreshment and renewal. The Knglish language is the mother-tongue of the Hritish ami of the Americans, of the Canadians and of the Australians, and new words and new meanings are Ifing contributed constantly from everyone of these sources of supply. Xor is there any danger of tontntntnation in this multitude of contributors, all loyal to the -same ideal Professor Lomishury has stated the governing pnn tiple with his ctistomarv tlearness ami common sense "The tin.il decision." as to propriety of usage and as to all new words and plinises. "rests not with individuals; neither with men of letters however prominent, nor with scholars, however learned. It is in the hands of the whole Ix-dv of cultivated Users of speech. They have an unerring itistimt as to its necessities. They are a great deal wiser than any of their self-constituted advisers however prominent Fortunatelv tm. thc-v have the ability to tarry their wishes into e'Tet t Tin v know what thev need, ami they can neither If t-rsiiaded out of it nor bullied out of it. . . If. in spite of clamor, they retain a -cord or construction it may gcnerallv be taken for granted that i: supplies a demand which really c ists."