Open main menu

Page:Notes and Queries - Series 10 - Volume 12.djvu/27

This page needs to be proofread.


10 s. xir. JULY 3, 1909.] NOTES AND QUERIES.


19


Knight came up to London from Leeds in 1860, when he had just completed his thirtieth year. He then felt capable of editing The Times, but destiny reserved him for a happier fate. He became in due course an editor, but how much more than an editor his friends will not soon forget. Mr. Francis has done well to write the niemoir of his old associate and chief that opens this fascinating volume. Those who knew Knight will be grateful to him for placing on permanent record an account of the .early years of one with whom most of them were only brought into contact in later life ; while those who had not the good fortune to possess his friendship will be glad to learn something of the career of one whose influence was not to be measured by the space that he occupied in the public eye. The present writer had the privilege of knowing Knight for the last twenty years of his life, the date of first acquaintanceship being marked by the gift of his recently published ' Life of Rossetti,' which was taken down from the bookshelves in the closely packed little study, and placed in the visitor's hands with a few kindly and cordial words. Then the host turned to his two favourite writers and teachers, Shakespeare and Froissart, both of whom harmonized so well with his broad and humorous outlook on life and the chivalrous spirit with which he regarded the deficiencies of human nature, and expatiated with pride on the " points " of the ancient folios in his possession. During those twenty years of which we speak, whether in his own small sanctum, or at those more spacious dinners at the Garrick Club in which his hospitable soul delighted, not an ill- natured jest or an unjust criticism ever passed his lips in our hearing. Like all strong characters, he had, of course, his likes and dislikes. We shall not soon forget his jovial remonstrance when we rallied him on his personal likeness to Mortimer Collins, a writer with whom rather unjustly, as we thought he found himself in very scant sympathy. On the subject of the modern stage lie was generally reticent, and in his capacity of a dramatic critic had some aversion from talking " shop " ; but he was never tired of speaking with almost paternal fondness of the merits of that incomparable actress whose Juliet and Rosalind are among the imperishable memories of middle- aged playgoers Lilian Adelaide Neilson.

Another feature of this volume is an admirable memoir of Joseph Woodfall Ebsworth, whose occasional contributions on ballad-lore will be fresh in the recollection of readers of ' N. & Q.' Ebsworth also held a post in the editorial phalanx, as for many years he superintended the publica- tions of the Ballad Society. Of this Society he might justly have said, " Pars magna fui," for without his enthusiasm and untiring industry its life would probably have been short. Ebs- worth was one of those typical Englishmen with whom the wind is usually in the east ; but though of an explosive nature, he rendered permanent service to literature, and was not the less loved by his friends because his heart was on his sleeve.

The remaining portions of the volume, which comprise a history of ' N. & Q.,' papers on Cowper, Longfellow, and other writers, together with valuable notes on The City Press and other journals, will be familiar to readers of these columns. In compiling these " Literary Anecr dotes " Mr. Francis has shown himself a worthy


successor of John Nichols and the other giants of

he eighteenth century. It is an advantage to

Dossess in moderate compass information which n a few years it would be difficult to obtain without much toilsome research, and which is now presented to the reader in a modest and attractive form.

The illustrations comprise portraits of Knight as a boy, in middle life, and in mature age. jrood as they are, we think the photographs which were published in ' N. & Q.' at the tune of his lamented death were more characteristic of the man. Ebsworth is represented by a portrait and by two of his sketches. One of these, a view of John Knox's house in Edinburgh, belongs to the school of Cattermole, but in chiaroscuro is far superior to anything that artist did ; whilst the other might have been produced by the needle of George Cruikshank.

The Index, which has been compiled by Mr. John Randall, is excellent. One name we miss that of John Morley (p. vii). The friends of Knight will remember the zest with which on occasion he recounted anecdotes of his early associations with the present Secretary of State for India, for whom, notwithstanding some divergent views on politics, he ever retained a loyal friendship and admiration.

Authors' and Printers' Dictionary. By F. Howard

Collins. (Frowde.)

THE new edition of this excellent guide is very welcome. The little book is already in its tenth thousand, and we hope it will reach many more readers, for it is remarkably cheap at a shilling. All who are concerned with the correction of the press should get it, for it will save many of the slips into which the most wary of experts fall from time to time. Indeed, it is the result of a mass of ex- perience in proof-reading, Mr. Collins having been assisted by many competent hands. The new title, introducing the word " Dictionary," is misleading, for the book, though it has received corrections and 1 additions, offers only a selection of difficult points, whereas a ' Dictionary ' is generally understood to be something of an exhaustive character.

We particularly commend the explanations of abbreviations, and the notes as to popular phrases which are frequently misunderstood and wrongly used.

WILSON'S Art of Rheiorique, 1560, edited by G. H. Mair, is a recent addition to the admirable " Tudor and Stuart Library " of the Clarendon Press, which is distinguished by its grace of form. Rhetoric is a subject generally despised in this country, and much better treated in the United States ; but Wilson's book deserved revival, for, as Mr. Mair says, it is " a landmark in the history of the English Renaissance, and many passages in it are important, and indeed indispensable to the historian of English literature." We add, further, that it contains much sound sense, which time has not staled, concerning the English lan- guage, and which a great many journalists, especially in the daily press, might read with advantage. The whole is varied, as was the custom of the day, with anecdotes, some classical, of the world's common stock, but others interest- ing for their personal turn or the insight they afford into contemporary manners. The anec- dote of the Spaniard on p. 138 seems to demand a reading of " potuit " instead of " potui."