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From The Saturday Review. THE ART OF PARAPHRASING.
A FEW months back,* we unearthed the two hundred and thirty-fifth edition of the Spelling-Book of a. certain Mr. Butter, which we felt sure must have helped in no slight measure towards the change going on from plain English into the odd tongue which is now fast usurping its place. A man whose books reach a two hundred and thirty-fifth edition must be prepared for imitators. Such success as that of. Mr. Butter would naturally kindle a generous emulation in many minds. Many a man maybe tempted to string together a few hard words on the chance of obtaining only the tenth part of Mr. Butter's success. We have no doubt that he has many pupils and followers. He certainly has a most promising one in a certain Rev. John Hunter, A.M., who describes himself as formerly Vice-Principal of the National Society's Training College at Battersea. Mr. Hunter's works have not yet reached their two hundred and thirty-fifth edition, but, as one of them went through three editions between 1858 and 1861, he may congratulate himself on treading in the steps of his great original as nearly as he can reasonably expect to do.
Mr. Hunter has, we think, achieved a great work. He has successfully reduced the practice of the grand style to a system. He has given us a great many rules and a great many examples to guide us in the task of turning good English into bad. One thing only is wanted—Mr. Hunter should really give us a dictionary. It is quite needful to accomplish his object. That object is, to teach people how to exchange the good straightforward words which will first come into their heads for the more elaborately ornamented and more ambitiously grandiloquent phraseology of the penny-a-liner. But for this end dull wits will want a dictionary. A pupil of Mr. Hunter will, of course, scorn such a poor word as " begin ; " but it may be that " inaugurate " may not at once suggest itself to him—he may be driven to put up with so comparatively feeble a substitute as "commence." He may wish for some expression less homely than "cock-fight," but it is not everybody across whose mind Mr. Butter's " alectoromachy" would flash unbidden. A dictionary of the High Polite Style, by Mr. Hunter, would be * Living Age No. 940.
an invaluable gift to waiters, commercial travellers, principals of educational establishments, and the literary public in general. Till this great want is supplied, we must put up with Mr. Hunter's grammar and exercise book, and we must do their author the justice to say that, by a careful use of them, a man may do a good deal towards unlearning his mother tongue.
Though Mr. Hunter is, as far as we know, the first person who has reduced the art of "Paraphrasing" to a system, he can by no means claim the honor of being the first Paraphrast. Who has not seen " Scripture Paraphrases," in which the meaning of the sacred writings and the vigorous English, of their translators are alike improved away? A great master in this way was Bishop Simon Patrick, who, when the Collects were, in 1689, voted " too short and too dry," was set to make them longer and more ornamental. But the art in those days was in its infancy, and, compared with modern masters, Patrick was a mere bungler. Something, in another tongue, was done about the same time by the editor of the Dolphin Classics, who, in the "Interpretatio" of each book, paraphrased a vast deal of good Latin into bad. But all these attempts, though highly creditable in their way, were still more desultory. Mr. Hunter is the first to teach the art upon system. We are probably displaying our own monstrous ignorance when we say that, till we got hold of Mr. Hunter's little books, we had no sort of idea that "paraphrasing" was an acknowledged art, taught by adepts like any other art. But we gather from Mr. Hunter's preface that the art has long been taught traditionally. He has now won the honor of being the first to set down its principles in a book, but he has long lived in fear that some one else would be quick enough to snatch his unplucked laurels from him. In his own words—words which show how well he can teach by example as well as by precept—" The utility of that species of scholastic exercise called Paraphrasing has been for so many years generally recognized among teachers, that the author of this little work long expected some anticipation of his own treatise to issue from the press." The same preface teaches us two or three more things about paraphrasing. It is a ,' somewhat difficult subject." Mr. Hunter has "not yet seen any other publication professing to methodize and teach it." But there are persons " who are desirous of attaining facility in composing, or in teaching to compose, a good paraphrase." To such persons Mr. Hunter "has been induced to contribute such assistance as his experienc0 enables him." Mr. Hunter further, with all the authority of a former Vice-Principal of the National Society's Training College at Battersea," would venture to recommend to schoolmasters the frequent employment of this species of exercise, as a very useful auxiliary to other means of instruction in English composition, as its tendency is to form a taste and promote an aptitude for the proper expression of original thought, as well as for a due appreciation of the writings of others."
By this time we begin to understand what paraphrasing means. It clearly means that the boys and girls of our National Schools are, whenever schoolmasters can be found silly enough to do so, to be set to translate out of the plain English of their Bibles and Prayer-Books into the jargon of Mr. Hunter and the penny newspapers. We really did not know that such an art was anywhere deliberately taught. The opposite process indeed we have sometimes amused ourselves by trying. We have both tried ourselves, and made others try, to translate bits of newspaper language into English, but we bad no idea whatever that boys and girls were deliberately set to translate English into newspaper. Let us, however, before we I put ourselves under Mr. Hunter's guidance, j see what we can ourselves do by the light of j nature. Here is as good a piece of plain English as ever was written, though, to be sure, its matter is too light to be quite the thing for National Schools :—
"If a body kiss a body,
Will not Mr. Hunter give us his first prize when we paraphrase this into
On the supposition that an individual salntes an
individual, Docs an individual lie under an obligation to
make a statement of the faet?
On turning over Mr. Hunter's pages, we find that all his precepts strengthen our belief that our own first attempt is really a firstrate paraphrase. He tells us that " the , poets, and those prose writers whose style is j
condensed, rigorous, or antiquated, supply the most suitable passages for exercises in paraphrasing." What can be more condensed and vigorous than the passage which we chose? and its language is a little antiquated into the bargain. But Mr. Hunter tells us that " frequently the original will be found more simply and clearly expressed than the paraphrase." We have not the slightest doubt of it, and we think our example shows it wonderfully well; only if the original be more simply and clearly expressed than the paraphrase, what becomes of Mr. Hunter's own definition of a paraphrase? "To paraphrase," according to the first sentence of his book, "means to explain some passage in a book by changing the author's language, and developing the scope of his ideas, so as to exhibit his meaning utith greater clearness, particularity, and fulness." Now, what "developing the scope of the author's ideas " may mean, we do not know the least bit. But is it not rather odd that, if the object of paraphrasing be to " explain passages" and to "exhibit the author's meaning with greater clearness," the result of paraphrasing should be that "frequently the original will be found more simply and clearly expressed than the paraphrase?" This result is, indeed, only just what we should expect; but, if so, "the utility of this species of scholastic exercise " is something which we should have great difficulty in " recognizing."
Again, Mr. Hunter, after telling us to pick out as our guides writers whose style is condensed, vigorous, or antiquated, goes on to say, with praiseworthy modesty, "it must always be remembered that the language of a good author generally loses both force and beauty by such transformation, and that no such attempt should be expected to produce something as good as the original." If so, one cannot help asking, why make the attempt at all? Why turn the original into something which confessedly is not so good? Why subject the language of a good author to a transformation which avowedly takes away both its force and beauty? Where, in short, is the recognized utility of this species of scholastic exercise? By Mr. Hunter's own account, then, paraphrasing consists in turning good English into bad. We hold, therefore, that our own specimen paraphrase is really perfect . We believe
that we have successfully destroyed all the force and beauty of the original. We feel sure that we have produced something which no one will think as good as the original. If so, we have, according to Mr. Hunter, fully accomplished the objects of a paraphrase. The goodness of a paraphrase consists in its badness, and, on that showing, we hold our own to be firstrate.
But we must, in fairness, let Mr. Hunter speak once more to explain the objects of his own art, and the powers required of those who would excel in it:—
"By paraphrasing, as a scholastic exercise, we mean—an explanatory variation of the language of a given portion of discourse, prescribed in order to ascertain the degree in which the pupil understands the passage, to promote in him the habit of general attention to the meaning and spirit of what he reads, to cultivate his power of discerning the force and beauty of literary composition, and to assist in making him skilful and expert in the expression of his own thoughts.
"In this species of exercise, care should be taken not to exceed those reasonable limits within which a faithful interpretation of the sense and significancy of the original may be comprehended. The tendency to over-expansion and embellishment must be duly restrained, the legitimate object and proper utility of the exercise being always
kept in view.
* * *' # *
"Ability to paraphrase may be said to depend, particularly, on familiarity with the principles of grammatical formation and arrangement, on appreciation of the significancy of words in themselves and in their relations and idiomatic uses, and on the power of readily recollecting synonymous expressions."
We copy these sentences without wholly understanding them. Indeed we know that we have no right to ask to understand them. As far as we can make out any meaning, it would seem to mean that boys and girls are to be set to " paraphrase," in order, first, to see whether they understand what they read, and, secondly, to teach them to write good English themselves. To accomplish these two ends they are to be taught to paraphrase good English into bad—to change every Teutonic word into a Latin one. Thus, they are given this piece of Cowper's :—
"How fleet is a glance of the mind! Compared with the speed of its flight,
,,. This perfectly clear and good English; they
are to "paraphrase" into the followihg'jargon:— . =..
"How rapid is the transition of thought I In, comparison with its velocity, the sweep of the tempest, and the swift dashing of the ravs of light, are but sluggish movements."
So again :—
"Can flattery soothe the dull cold ear of death!"
becomes in Mr. Hunter's hands —
"Can the language of flattery gratify the ear which death has sealed in cold insensibility?"
When Milton says —
"O unexpected stroke, worse than of death! Must I thus leave thee, Paradise! thus leave Thee, native soil I these happy walks and
shades, Fit haunt of gods! where I had hoped to
Quiet, though sad, the respite of that day
Mr. Hunter turns it into —
"Oh, this unlooked-for calamity, more distressfnl than the doom of death! O Paradise, must I as a banished one depart from thee! Must I in that manner leave the spot where my life began, thus bid adieu to those blissful walks and shades, worthy to be frequented by celestial beings, and amidst which I had cherished the soothing expectation of spending in quietness, though mournfully, the allowed remainder of that day in which, by Divine decree, we both must die."
Our notions of good English doubtless differ from Mr. Hunter's, so it may be vain to try to prove to him that his process will do the exact opposite of " assisting in making the pupil skilful and expert in the expression of his own thoughts." But we may perhaps dispute a little as to its use in " ascertaining the degree in which the pupil understands the passage." To us it seems that to translate what is clear into what is obscure — to translate what is easy into what is hard— can serve no purpose of the kind. If the pupil is encouraged in the use of big words to which he is not accustomed, and which cannot convey their meaning with the same distinctness as the words of his own daily talk, he has at once a means afforded him of cloaking his ignorance under a cloud of sounding syllables. The real way of finding out whether a boy understands what he
"-;I 'X -„U^^
•>_ '"^.V>." /-V' THE ART OF PARAPHRASING. 129
, t^d^^npf-to bid him paraphrase it into j A. "He performed his ablutions and itn'. f' the fligfi-polite style, but to bid him tell the mediately proceeded to partake of refresh.. SWry in the plainest words of daily life. A i ments."
,' . .vkild' in a National School was asked, Mr. Hunter would most likely think this '"j»«-'" Wh&t did David do when they told him i a sign of great skilfulness and expertness in Chat the child was dead?" "Please, sir, he the expression of thought; but would it cleaned himself and took to his victuals." show the same "habit of general attention All honor to a child who had so thoroughly to the meaning and spirit of what he reads," entered into the story that he could at once as was shown by the little fellow who had tell it in just the words which he would use Bo thoroughly called up the doings of David every day with his playmates. In Mr. before his mind's eye? We know not to Hunter's style the question and answer what extent Mr. Hunter's theories and proemight stand thus :— esses are adopted by teachers, but if this
Q. "What course of action did David ! sort of thing goes on in the National Schools pursue when he received intelligence of the ' generally, there is indeed something for Mr. demise of his infant?" I Lowe and the school inspectors to look to.
Mx. Hall's Arctic Expedition.—The arrival of this expedition has been announced by telegraph. The Newfoundland papers contain additional particulars informing us that Mr. Hall has secured a largo quantity of relies of Frobislicr's expedition, gathered at various points. Tlicse are described as follows:—
"The coal has been overgrown witli moss, and a dark vegetable growth; tlie brick looks quite as bright as when it was turned out of , one talle filiip of Her Majesties, named the Ayde, of nine score tunncs, or thereabouts,'— the vessel in which Frobisher departed on his second vovage, after having ' kissed Her Majesties hand," and been dismissed with gracious countenance and comfortable words.' The pieces of wood arc merely oak chips which have been well preserved, having been embedded in coal dust for nearly three hundred years. The piece of iron ballast is much decomposed and rusted.
"Mr. Hall found upon one of the islands a trench twenty feet deep and one hundred feet long, leading'to the water, in which a party of Frobisher's men, who had been captured by the Esquimaux, and with the assistance of their captors, had bnilt a small vessel, intending therein to set sail for England. After putting to sea, they experienced such severe weather that they were obliged to return, all of them being frost-bitten. They lived many years among the Esquimaux, who treated them very kindly, and all of them eventually died there. These facts arc related by the Esquimaux of that region as a matter of tradition.
"Respecting the two boats' crews of Franklin, Mr. Hall learned that a few years since a party of Innuits had seen two Codluna—white
THIRD SERIES. LIVING AOB. 933.
men's—boats, and found on one of the Lower Savage Islands— which commence near the mainland on the north side of Hudson's Strait —what they termed ' soft stones.' One of the Innuus, who had become possessed of a gun and ammunition from the Hudson's Bay Company, recognized them as bullets.
"Sir John Franklin, not knowing how long he might be detained in the Arctic seas, carried out a large quantity of ammunition, and Mr. Hall has not a particle of doubt that the crews of these two boats, in their endeavor to get down through Hudson's Straits, and on to the Labrador, had thrown out these bullets so that their progress might not be impeded.
"Mr. Hall lias with him n very interesting Esquimaux family, consisting of a father, mother, and son, who arc excellent specimens of their race. This family, excepting the child, have been in the civilized world before. They were taken across the Atlantic to England, some years ago, and presented to Her Majesty the Queen.
"Mr. Hall has a number of interesting memorials of the social life of the Innuits, among whom be dwelt so long. They consist of little articles very neatly cut from bone or ivory, representing the polar bear, seals, walrus, and ducks, etc. These show a great deal of patient perseverance with the rude tools with which, they must have been worked. Mr. Hall says life, in these high latitudes, is not so difficult of preservation as is generally supposed—the snow and ice houses of the Innuits being exceedingly tight and comfortable, and their coarse animal food rendered exceedingly palatable by the sharpness of appetite engendered by the keen atmosphere of an extreme northern climate."
From The London Review.
IMMIGRATION IN THE WEST INDIES.
At a time when the most numerous and the wealthiest section of our industrial population has been dragged down to penury and ruin by the dearth of the raw material which feeds its industry, no apology is needed for calling attention to any subject which Las a practical bearing upon the question of a cotton supply. The plant, as is now well known, can be grown in many regions; and at the conference recently held with a view to insure a future supply, the representatives of various countries, extending almost "from China to Peru," attended upon the invitation of the manufacturers, and stated what they had and what they had not of the requisites for cotton-growing. One country wants labor, another capital, and a third asks only for fair play on the part of its government: all, however, want more or less of time, and meanwhile there is many a gloomy home in Lancashire. But it is with the West Indies, and more especially with British Guiana, that we have now to ,do. This colony can grow cotton of a quality second only, we believe, to the famous Sea Island cotton. In the times before the emancipation, cotton was its chief export; and it might become so again were it not for tho scarcity of labor. And if it is hoped to make the colony hereafter the abundant source of excellent cotton, this desirable consummation can be achieved only by the continuance of that immigration, of which vre now propose to give a brief sketch.
It has been the good fortune of British Guiana to absorb into its thin population, during the last fourteen years, a steady influx of Portuguese immigrants; who, according to the returns published by the Emigration Commissioners, in the course of last session, already numbered more than eleven thousand, while only two thousand of them were scattered over the rest of the West Indies. This immigration, wisely encouraged by tho local government, has been of incalculable benefit to the colony; and to the wine-growing peasants of Maderia, reduced to penury by the vine-disease, the land has become once more the El Dorado of riches. Steadily they rise from laborers to wandering hucksters, from hucksters to storekeepers, and perhaps to wealthy mor
al every corner of a street and meeting of cross-roads, their thriving stores attest the national genius for trade. With this toiling, self-denying, and parsimonious race the luxurious and improvident negro finds the contest hopeless. The negro consumes himself the best that he has in his store, and sells the refuse; while the Portuguese trader is content to starve himself and his family, and hoard his rapid gains in squalid discomfort. We doubt, indeed, if there is a single store in the whole colony now kept by a black man. But the native Creole regards the immigrant with a blind and ignorant jealousy, which every honest mind must deplore; for to this colony immigration is the sheet-anchor of wealth and prosperity. Already has immigration raised it . from a slough of despond to a nourishing condition; and immigration alone can develop its vast resources to their full capabilities.
The sea-coast line of British Guiana exceeds two hundred miles in length; and running southwards from the sea, the colony has, practically, no limits. "To the rear there is," as a traveller observed, " an eternity of sugar and cotton capability in the mud." The planter "may cultivate canes up to the very Andes if he coutd only get Coolies." The sight of the broad rivers rolling down in tranquil majesty their dark and turbid waters, where all around is unutterably flat and green, recalls to memory the poet's image of the old Nile,—
"Et viridem ^Egyptum nigrft fsccundat arena,"
Over boundless acres of the richest virgin soil there broods the awful stillness of a tropical forest. The silence of the wilderness reigns unbroken by the foot or voice of man, save where the scanty remnant of the Carib Indians—the dispossessed and doomed inheritors of the soil—still hunt and fish, and weave their simple fabrics, till they pass away and their place knows them no more. At the present time there is no more than a thin and much broken line of cultivation running along the coast and penetrating a little distance up the rivers. A hundred miles of coast, now for the most part a waste of tropical vegetation, was once a vast and blooming cotton-field. There is not an estate in the colony which has not a water
chants and land-owners. In every village, j frontage; and the facilities and economy of