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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/381

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377
SHORTER ARTICLES AND DISCUSSION.

sumption has not yet been proved, but in view of what has been said and even of what was said twenty years ago, it ran not be said to have been disproved. If instead of making deductions from groups of 1,000 to 5,000 words, Dr. Moritz had declared his belief that even 100,000 was too small a number for a perfectly definite characteristic curve the statement would have been well worth consideration; but it is difficult to doubt the evidence of diagrams exhibiting the word curves of several of the principal writers of Shakespeare's time, published in this journal, December, 1901, nearly all of which are based on counts of over 100,000 words each, and especially the very remarkable agreement, amounting to practical identity of the two curves from Shakespeare, each including about 200,000 words; the almost equally close agreement of two curves of 75,000 words each from Ben Jonson; and the striking difference between the latter and the curve of Shakespeare, although the 'form of composition' is the same in both, a fact directly opposed to Dr. Moritz's conclusion from a few groups of 5,000 words each.[1] After the reader has examined the close agreement of these large groups from the same author, he may consider the contrasted curves of Bacon and Shakespeare, representing the counts of over a half million words, and, as far as I am concerned, he is still 'at liberty to draw any conclusion he pleases.'

Dr. Moritz's studies of the influence of 'form of composition' on the word curve are instructive and it is to be hoped that he will have the patience and courage to continue them. When his word counting, instead of including only a few thousands, shall have reached a million or two, and these of not more than a half dozen authors, what he may have to say upon the subject will be listened to with interest.

T. C. Mendenhall.
Florence, Italy,
June 24, 1904.

  1. It is interesting to compare diagrams 8, 11 and 14 of his paper, to note the general agreement of the two curves for each author, the general and, indeed, striking differences among the three authors (which would have been much more evident in means of the several pairs) and to inquire if he has even correctly interpreted his own diagrams?