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CHAPTER X.

NECESSITY OF LUCIDITY IN LITERATURE

244-268

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(1) All writers should energise for the Salvation and

Delectation of Smith and Brown. (2) The virtue of lucidity.

Aristotle, Quintilian, Cervantes, Locke, Johnson, Lord

Kames, Campbell, Poe, Carlyle, Newman, on the subject.

(3) The speech of intelligent purpose and clear thought is

alone worthy of utterance. (4) Yet there are some writers

with whom obscurity almost passes as a merit. (5) Thou

art but a barbarian unto me unless thou speakest intelli-

gibly and lucidly. (6) The obscure as exemplified by Ros-

setti. (7) The remote in meaning is lost both morally and

esthetically. The case of Fabricio in Gil Blas.' Do not

Moses and all the true Prophets address themselves to way-

faring men? (7a) Lucidity is necessary in plot and narra-

tive. (8) Obscurity is an injustice and insolence to readers

-as in Browning's "Sordello." It is said to criticise life

with unsurpassed subtlety," but that is not what we

wish we wish to have it criticised with simple sound

sense and clarity. Nothing very important is very subtle.

(9) Vagueness and verbosity would mar an Angel's speech.

Glance at Browning's "Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister,'

or his play, 'The Return of the Druses.' It is incredible

that the bard himself had any lucent purpose in such

lucubrations: I would rather read Byles 'On Bills.' (10)

Lucidity in Art. All noble drawing distinguished by "its

fine expression and firm assertion of something "-(11) ex-

emplified both favourably and unfavourably in G. F.

Watts' pictures. (11a) Music also should be lucid. (12)

Great work almost immediately evokes appropriate feeling

in the intelligent reader or hearer. The object of the lamp-

lighter is to illuminate the wayfarer's feet: the steady

purpose of the writer should be to illuminate his Head.

(13) Nature herself evokes the right feeling in the beholder

at once-or probably never. (14) So a joke or a play of wit

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arts is not permissible. (15) No utterance but that of strong

sincerity is worth attention. (16) The insincere in Litera-

ture are mere Simoniacs: the very sight of him must be

offensive to the Muses. (17) The right author is at war

with the evil powers. (18) Feigned Inspirations. (19-24)

Instances. (25) The weak man is at his weakest when he

writes poetry. (26-36) Examples from Collins, Dyer,

Christopher Pitt, Ambrose Phillips, Edward Young, Cowley,

Roscommon, Otway, Waller, Dryden, Bacon. With the

adulators, compare, e.g., Sir David Lyndsay's fearless and

noble advice to James the Fifth. (37) It was adulation

of monarchs as much as monarchs themselves that brought

on the civil wars. (38) Nor is good intention a sufficient

warranty for authorship. (39) How sincerity manifests

itself in Literature: (40) e.g., the Hebrew Scriptures.

(41) Sincerity is creative and life-giving. (42) It is ex-

emplified by all great authors, (43) though they are but

human. (44) No army can fight without a commissariat

of some kind; no man can operate without one. (45) But

there is no great work done unless the heart be in it.

(46-48) Instances from Dante. (49) Archdeacon Barbour

on freedom and thraldom. (50) Dunbar's meditation on

Death. (51-53) Instances from Shakespeare; (54) Michael

Bruce's "Ode to the Cuckoo"; (55) from Burns; (56)

from Keats; and (57) Wordsworth. (58) No great work

done without sincerity. (59) Even laughter to be genuine

must be sincere, otherwise it may degenerate into a mere

display of teeth. (60) All Nature is inspired and glorified

by sincerity. (61) So all the works of sterling men: a dis-

agreement with Professor Saintsbury.

Common-Sense and the Muses.

CHAPTER I.

CRITICS AND THEIR ART.

1. In a review of any book we are entitled to expect some more or less intelligible and definite appraisement of its value; but instead of this reasonable expectation being fulfilled, we frequently find that the critic is only spinning around it a vague tissue of words from which we can derive no enlightenment.

2. This frequent vagueness and uncertainty of criticism is a common subject of complaint, and it is abundantly justified. Going back to the old Greek days, we find Plato making Socrates express himself in these words: "I soon discovered this, with regard to the poets, that they do not effect their object by wisdom but by a certain natural inspiration and under the influence of enthusiasm, like prophets and seers: for these also say many fine things, but they understand nothing what they say ";1 whilst in another Dialogue he says: "There is a third possession and madness proceeding from the Muses, which, seizing upon a tender and chaste soul, and rousing and inspiring it to the composition of odes and other species of poetry, by adorning the countless

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1 'The Apology of Socrates,' 7 (Bohn Tr.)

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