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of literature, as of government, it may be said that it is born, not made. This saying, so often quoted, must not, indeed, be taken literally. There are definite formative acts achieved by which States grow, and to which their citizens rightly look back as towering landmarks. It is the same with literature. Here is landmark called Homer, there another called Virgil. Italy has one known as Dante, England one called Shakespeare. In each case some particular constructive monument of genius was erected which had not existed before. But it did not originate de novo, it came into being from materials already there. Goethe said with truth of Burns that his poetry was the outcome of generations of Scottish ballad literature which welled up in his consciousness, and the elements of which were blended by his genius in a new form of art. This is more or less true of all literature, and therefore it may be said that mankind has created and sustained literature, and has contributed more to its perpetuation and power than any one individual, however great.
This consideration is once more sug. gested to the mind by an interesting “Hand-Book of English Proverbs with their Equivalents in Italian," by Professor G. Tricomi (Catania: Niccolo Giannotta), which takes as a motto a quatrain of which one line runs, “And what are proverbs but the people's voice?” The collection embraces nearly twelve hundred examples, Italian and English, in parallel columns. Sev. eral typographical English errors occur, but we must not be exacting. It is interesting to note and compare the modes of expression in the two languages.
Sometimes one is the exact counterpart of the other, as in these in
stances: "As you sow, so shall you reap"-Come farai cosi avrai; “All's well that ends well”—Tutto è bene che riesce bene; “Christmas comes but once a year"—Natale viene una sola volta l'anno; “Custom is second nature"Consuetudine è una seconda natura. In other cases, however, the modes of expression are quite diverse, the English being in such cases the more terse and strenuous. Our proverb, “A cat may look at a King," is in Italian Anche un cane guarda un vescovo,-i.e., a dog may look at a Bishop. “Well begun is half done" becomes Chi ben comincia è alla metà dell' opra, or “He who begins well is at the end of his work.” The very terse “Forewarned is forearmed” is represented in Italian by Uomo avvisato, mezzo salto. Uomo avvertito mezzo munito,-"A man advised is half safe. A man warned is half secure."
Interesting, however, as is the comparison between the structural expression of Italian and English proverbs, our design is rather to suggest the importance of the proverb in the making of literature. For that the proverb is literature there can be no doubt. It is artistic in form, it is a concentrated expression of worldly wisdom at least and very often of profound moral truth, it passes current everywhere, it formulates the universal ideas common to peasant and philosopher, it grows out of the general consciousness. Above all, it suggests to us that that which endures in human speech and writing is the happy phrase or sentence which aims not at preciseness of details, but at precision in the utterance of feeling, knowledge, or experience. It is a noteworthy fact that in our own day, when that terse, epigrammatic style which was all but universal in the early world is no more, when German philosophers
take a hundred pages to say what treating. How satisfactory it is to Aristotle said in three lines, many of "have one's talk out" with those who the phrases which stick in our minds are sufficiently sympathetic and nimare not those laboriously polished by ble-witted to divine your essential our leading writers but rough sayings meaning! And what a source of exascoined by rough people on Western peration to give your best and find it prairies or in mines, or on solitary hill- misunderstood by some dull analyzing sides, who have scarcely ever opened a pedant whose imagination is so inbook in their lives. The proverb can effective that you “must speak by the never be the outcome of culture. The card." We complain of the average cultivated man is afraid of committing man, but there must after all be a good himself, his mind is as artificial as his deal in him, or he would never have surroundings, he knows so much to be melted down human language into prosaid for or against any proposition, that verbial philosophy. For the one thing he dare not come out with a simple na- needed both in the making and undertive truth for fear it should be dis- standing of proverbs is the power to sected by other cultivated people as a read between the lines and to make the half-statement. Some modern writers, imagination help out that which is not feeling themselves thus cramped, strive stated in terms of mathematical accuagainst the tendency to rob language racy. Proverbs, like jokes, must not of its primal freshness and crisp qual- be explained; you understand them at ity. Browning takes flying leaps from once or not at all. Their power is not ledge to ledge of word and epigram, quantitative, but ethical, human and leaving to the mind of the reader the qualitative. They sum up for us centask of filling up the yawning gaps. Mr. turies of experience, but we must acMeredith bas, in the same quest after a cept their meaning in a large and fluid lost terseness, produced a strange lan- way. guage of his own which, if people We have said that the proverbial would be candid, would be found to part of the world's literature is an eshave pleased nobody. Carlyle had, on sential, and perhaps the chief part of the other hand, the real trick. His it which exercises real power. But it words, like Luther's, were “half-bat- is significant that the consciously creattles;" we can never forget his powerful ing personalities in literature have apphrasing, his biting epigram. But that preciated fully the proverbial wisdom was largely because Carlyle, like of their land or race. Perhaps there is Burns, was the offspring of Scottish no great author of whom this is more peasantry, and was in fact a peasant true than Cervantes, as there is no litto the end of his days. He had the erature so full of proverbs as the Spanpeasant's primal contact with realities, ish. In Signor Tricomi's little work and was never made artificial by cul- many footnotes remind us how Dante, ture, extensive as were his stores of Petrarch, Tasso, Tommaseo, and other knowledge. Of a very different person Italian writers were familiar with and -Johnson-the same may be said, al- were indebted to this literature of the though what Carlyle gave us in books, common people. Horace must have Johnson has bequeathed to us in con- transmitted to us much of the quick, versation. Perhaps the intimate con- eager brilliant talk he heard while wanversation among equals who have noth- dering about the Forum; Juvenal cering to conceal provides the best form tainly did, as Signor Tricomi's notes of this terse, vigorous epigram or cele- show. Shakespeare's mind was filled ated saying of which we
with proverbial philosophy which stood
A land that is yours and mine!
R. P. Gibbon.
THE FINGER PRINTS OF CRIME.
What is the origin of the custom by long since ceased to have any practical which a man who executes an in- weight. denture touches with his finger the red These two conditions of variety and wafer affixed at its end, and declares persistence having been shown to be that he delivers the document “as his fulfilled, the time for a serious trial of act and deed?" Such a practice is the new method was come, and it was buried deep in the past of English law; Mr. Henry who, as Inspector-General perhaps Professor Maitland can ex- of Police in the Lower Provinces, perplain it; but, at any rate, it seems to suaded the Government of India to suggest that the idea of using the print adopt his system of identification by of a finger as a test of identity and finger impression. The success of the authenticity is not exclusively modern. new method is very remarkable; from For the first scientific inquiry into the the Police Department it is spreading subject we are indebted to Mr. Francis to other branches of public activity Galton, who was greatly helped to his where identification is a requirement conclusions by the materials collected difficult to fulfil. Thus, State pensionby Sir William Hershel in his experi- ers are required to demonstrate their mental use of the new methods in parts right to draw allowances by giving of Bengal. Mr. Galton's investigations their finger-prints; documents require . established the all-important fact that this simple and effective countersign the details of the ridges forming the of authenticity before they can be adpattern on any particular finger persist mitted to public registration; the opium in the case of a given individual from cultivator impresses his finger-mark on infancy to extreme old age. Another his receipt for a State loan; false perequally important fact-viz., that no sonation at public examinations is two persons have precisely the same checked by similar means; and in nufinger-markings-is not perhaps capable merous other cases where the person of strict logical proof until the mystery named in a document must be identiof individuality is more fully explained; fied with certainty, Mr. Henry's but every fresh impression that tak- methods are proving equally effective. en and examined adds something to the Finally, only a few months ago, the cumulative evidence, and the objection Indian Legislature has expressly prothat no universal affirmative is estab- vided that their codified law of evi. lished by collecting a multitude of par- dence should be so amended as to ad. ticular negatives, has in this instance mit without question the testimony of
experts skilled in the deciphering of • Classification and Uses of Finger Printe. By
finger-prints. of the practical utility E. R. Henry, C.S.I. London: George Routledge &
of the new system,'Mr. Henry's book
contains several interesting illustra- of tin, some printer's ink, and a roller tions. Thus, the Bengal Courts had to roll the latter on the former. Any before them in 1898 the crime of mur- one, even a native police officer, can der and robbery practised upon a tea- take legible finger prints, whereas planter, who was found with his throat anthropometry requires special training cut, and with his safe and despatch-box and a knowledge of the decimal scale. in confusion and rified of their con- Even supposing M. Bertillon's instrutents. Among others, an ex-servant, ments are available in the hands of whom the murdered man had prose- persons competent to use them, there is cuted to conviction for theft some still the further objection that the time before, was suspected of the out- whole method is over-elaborate, and rage, but there was no evidence of his involves many independent chances of presence on the spot at the time of the error. Either system can be so indexed crime. The unknown murderer, how- as to make searching a reasonably ever, in ransacking the despatch-box, rapid operation. But the greatest adhad handled an almanack it contained, vantage which Mr. Henry can claim on the cover of which were two faint over M. Bertillon is this: a finger-print brown smudges. These were photo- is an actual human document, the exact graphed and found to be prints of a negative of an original, incapable of human thumb, while chemical analysis error so far as the record itself is conshowed the marks to have been made cerned. Hence, though a mistake may with mammalian blood. The thumb- be made in counting the number of prints were compared with those of ridges, such mistake can be corrected, similar characteristics filed in the cen- even after the owner of the finger has tral office of the Bengal police and were disappeared, by recounting. But, unfound exactly to correspond with the der the Bertillon system of measuresuspected ex-servant's right thumb im- ments, once a mistake is made it canpression, taken when he was com- not afterwards be discovered or rememitted for the term of imprisonment died without remeasurement of the inwhich he had completed shortly before dividual who has vanished. Not only the crime. He was arrested and the may the reading of the record be chain of identification was then further wrong, but the record itself may be destrengthened by taking another impres- fective, in which case no amount of sion. Mr. Henry reproduces the three care can provide a remedy. For these prints, on the comparison of which the reasons Mr. Henry seems fully justiprisoner was convicted, together with fied in urging that the Indian Governa chart indicating the “characteristics” ment was well advised to desert anthrocommon to all three. There can be no pometry for finger-prints. more perfect example of mathematical In England, of course, the police have exactitude applied to legal proof.
no knowledge of either system. The No one can examine this diagram Investigation Department keeps a without thinking of the ingenious M. photograph and a description of every Bertillon. If we compare the Indian criminal, and that is all. The worst of plan of identification by finger-prints it is that from the very nature of the with the Bertillon method of anthropom- case we can never know how ludicrousetry, on which side does the balance ly unsatisfactory such a clumsy record of advantage lie? The superiority of must be, for no one can tell how often Mr. Henry's system seems indisputable. it happens that a prisoner who is really To begin with, it is infinitely simpler; an old offender is treated as a novice the only instruments needed are a piece in crime. But one day even England