which are more powerful than any amount of detail, and whose skilful use is the only magic employed by the masters of truly picturesque writing.
The sentence just quoted will serve also as an example of that tendency to surplusage
which adds to the bulk of Mr. Masson
's sentences at the cost of their effectiveness.
If he had said simply ‘chop on Tower Hill
’ (if chop there must be), it had been quite enough, for we all know that the executioner's axe and the scaffold are implied in it. Once more, and I have done with the least agreeable part of my business.
, after telling over again the story of Strafford
with needless length of detail, ends thus: ‘On Wednesday, the 12th of May, that proud curly
head, the casket of that brain of power, rolled on the scaffold of Tower Hill
? Surely it is here a ludicrous impertinence.
This careful thrusting forward of outward and unmeaning particulars, in the hope of giving that reality to a picture which genius only has the art to do, is becoming a weariness in modern descriptive writing.
It reminds one of the Mrs
expedient of dressing the waxen effigies of murderers in the very clothes they wore when they did the deed, or with the real halter round their necks wherewith they expiated it. It is probably very effective with the torpid sensibilities of the class who look upon wax figures as works of art. True imaginative power works with other material.
striving to wash away from her hands the damned spot that is all the more there to the mind of the spectator because it is not there at all, is a type of the methods it employs and the intensity of their action.
Having discharged my duty in regard to Mr. Masson
's faults of manner, which I should not have dwelt on so long had they not greatly marred a real enjoyment in the reading, and were they not the ear-mark of a school which