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the point at issue, and often, as in the case of Swift, digressions from digressions. Having taken his text, as the exegete would, he often takes immediate leave of it, and the result is, a discursion or an excursion, called, by way of literary compliment, an article. Paradox is made a staple commodity. The assertion of one line modifies and, perhaps, nullifies that of the preceding. Novel and startling opinions are broached simply for their novelty, and, ere we are aware, curiosity is so confirmed into a habit that the ordinary becomes "stale, flat and unprofitable,” and we crave the rare and racy. Such authoresses as Kate Field, Fanny Fern and Gail Hamilton are of this discursive order. Mr. Boyd, in his "Country Parson," "Leisure Hours" and “Every-Day Philosopher,” illustrates it. Mr. Bissell, in his “ Obiter Dicta,” touches on Truth, Humbug, Falstaff, Book-buying and on well-known authors with this literary abandon of all established form. Such a living novelist as Frank Stockton, in his “Rudder Grange," "Roundabout Rambles"
" and “Tales out of School,” leads us in this free and easy manner, quite unconcerned as to where and how. In such a style, the graphic and picturesque abound. All is sparkling, sprightly, crisp and attractive—a kind of out-of-door strolling, with hat in hand, through a beautiful landscape, where all is light and life and gayety. The method is panoramic.
In a word, the popular style must be entertaining in order to verify its right to exist, and whatever element of instructiveness or ästhetic and emotive interest it may possess, it aims, first and last, to attract and enchain attention. Its final purpose is recreative, and the farther it can separate itself from the precincts of the school, the better. Hence, it deals largely in the humorous and burlesque ; seasons its pages with well-selected satire, and thus engages the sympathy of the reader by its good-natured attacks on men and things, on prevailing faults and follies. There is, indeed, no phase of current opinion or habit on which it does not feel itself at liberty to touch. The style of Sidney Smith and of Charles Lamb was, in this sense, popular. Mrs. Charles, in her brilliant “Chronicles of the Schönberg-Cotta Family," is a conspicuous example of this type. Such works as Martin Luther's or Coleridge's “Table Talk ; ',
" Howitt's “Visits to Remarkable Places; ” Wilson's “Bryant and His Friends;" Irving's “Sketch Book;" John Brown's “Rab and His Friends ; ” Hazlitt's “Miscellanies; ” Dickens' “ Christmas Stories; Dobson's “Eighteenth Century Essays " and Dr. Holmes' “ Autocrat of the Breakfast Table” are in this clear, flexible and practical vein : happy in conception and execution ; plastic and pictorial in form and always entertaining. Such informal and friendly correspondence as Goethe held with Schiller, or Fenelon with Madame Guyon, exhibits this colloquial freedom of vein and manner.
The popular style is and must be readable-plain enough to be readable, and practical and flexible
enough to be read. This is its unique feature and ultimate aim. Style may be this or that in its purpose, or accomplish this or that in its results. It is not popular unless it is so presented as to command the actual attention of the great reading public. If it is for them, they will, by an unerring instinct, detect it and keep the presses of the publisher busy in supplying it. If it is not what they want, no device of type or binding or minimum cost can impose it upon them. Popular literary instincts, as popular social and political instincts, are as final in their force as they are spontaneous in their origin.
There is, therefore, such a product as light literature. Mentally, its specific gravity need not be high. Æsthetically it need not be high; and, yet, there are specific qualities of merit which it possesses that are so pronounced, that they serve to commend it to the candid attention of all writers and students of style. There is such a type as the popular style, at or below the mental and ästhetic average, and, yet, fitted to do a beneficent work where other orders of expression must fail.
We may advance a step farther and assert—that all genuine style is, to a degree, popular. The end of authorship is, that it be read, and it must exhibit, therefore, the readable or popular features. It is, in fact, one of the prime conditions of success, by the neglect or violation of which many a volume of undoubted literary and mental merit has almost immediately passed from the publisher's counters to the upper shelves of books not in demand. It is, beyond question, true that too little attention is paid by scholarly and finished writers to these popular elements of expression to that timeliness of topics and verbal plainness and freedom of method, so essential to ensure a reading. Highly educated authors may prepare technical manuals for the schools or present scholastic papers before scholastic bodies, and rightly hold to the style of the schools, but when they enlarge their purpose and address the common public, they must endorse and exemplify those unclassified canons of style which obtain among the people and which they insist upon demanding.
We have already adduced the names of Addison and Steele, Lamb and Irving, as popular writers, in their conspicuous exhibition of these so-called taking qualities. They have been cited, also, as literary writers, and are, in a true sense, intellectual and emotive. They thus are seen to combine, in logical and beautiful unity, the four great types of style, so that it is difficult to state for which of the four they are the most notable. Prescott, our American historian, is such a popular writer, as are, also, Headley and McMaster. In biography, such names as Forster, Prior, Lockhart, Trollope, Stephen, are such writers. Such living American authors as Cable, Higginson and Warner, signally exhibit this essential unity, while in the sphere of fiction and general letters, Thackeray and Bul
wer; Reade aud Kingsley, Macaulay and Hazlitt, Chesterfield, Christopher North and Charlotte Brontë conspicuously reveal it.
Holding to the intellectuality of style as its first excellence, and emphasizing, against all objections, the necessity of æsthetic beauty and of vigor, it still is incumbent on every exponent of style to present, as far as possible, his thought and his art and his passion in the form best adapted to satisfy all the normal needs of the people at large.
It is not to be accepted as tenable that a style is less scholarly because it is understood, or less artistic and effective because it is somewhat practical and pliant in its methods. All genuine mental progress and literary culture ought to be expected to evince, as one of the marks of such progress, a fuller power of adaptation to the general intellect and taste.
There is, however, another and a lower sense of the word popular as applied to style, and every author of high ambition is to be on his guard, at this point, against temptations to which he will be constantly exposed in his work. Popularity, at all hazards, is the creed of some writers and teachers of style. The only test of a book, they tell us, is its readableness-its salableness, irrespective of its mental or moral character. A hundred thousand copies sold means eminent merit, because it means visible success, and we are not to inquire too carefully who the hundred thousand patrons are. The books are bought and thumbęd and