often seems ashamed to speak well, and pooh-poohs all oratory, so he is beginning to show the same slipshod manner on paper.
What stands between Americans
and good writing is usually want of culture; we write as well as we know how, while in England
the obstacle seems to be merely a boorish whim.
The style of many English books and magazines is less careful than ours, --less finished, less harmonious, more inelegant, more slangy.
What second-rate American writer would see any wit in describing himself, like Dean Alford
in his recent book on language, as “an old party in a shovel” ? These bad examples are to be regretted; for doubtless ten times as many original works are annually published in England
as in America
, and we have an hereditary right to seek from that nation those models of culture for which we must now turn to France
In a late English magazine, there is an elaborate attempt to prove the inferiority in manliness of the French
mind as compared with the English
“Frenchmen are less manly, and French-women less womanly, than English men and women.”
And one of the illustrations seriously offered is this: “In literature they think much of the method, style, and what they themselves call the art of making a book.”
The charge is true.
alone among living nations is literature habitually pursued as an art; and, in consequence of this, despite the seeds of decay which imperialism sowed, French prose-writing has no rival in contemporary literature.
We cannot fully recognize this fact through translations, because only the most sensational French books
appear to be translated.
But as French painters and actors now habitually surpass all others even in what are claimed as the English