« 前へ次へ »
rapid motion and driving forward 5,600,000 cubic feet per hour ; besides the surrounding volume, equal, or even larger in amount, which would be necessarily displaced and set in motion by the vacuum created in the rear of and around the driven column. When propelled by electricity, each ventilating fan of this size takes one-seventh of a horse-power to drive it, and with a force of 1,000 electrical horsepower, which at the ordinary price of electricity (Sd. per Board of Trade unit) would cost £25 per hour, it would be possible to have 7,000 such fans at work, delivering hourly 1,120 million cubic feet of fog, in 7,000 columns of ventilation, placed at a distance of 50 yards apart and equally distributed over 200 miles of the streets of London. Special means would be adopted for the generation and distribution of the electric current at so many points.
The primary purpose of these air-propellers might moreover be supplemented by applying them during periods of epidemics and at other times to a very complete and inestimably useful ventilation of the worst parts of the congested districts at the East End, and of many of the narrow streets and courts which abound throughout the greater part of London ; while the electric current, when not required for ventilation, could at any moment be switched from the motors to electric lamps, and used for purposes of illumination. If carefully combined with these other useful objects, it must be acknowledged that the cost at which the lungs and respiratory organs of the inhabitants of London would by this means be relieved in times of fog would be quite insignificant ; and the realisation of such a plan would probably be followed by a considerable improvement in the climatic conditions of the Metropolis, and a notable reduction in the spread of epidemics.
OWEN C. D. ROSS.
POETRY AND POLITICS.
DOLITICS do not seem at first sight a very promising subject for
1 poetry, nor is there any apparent relationship between the two. The former seem too prosaic and too matter-of-fact to do other than clog the wings of fancy in its flight. Politics are by no means "an airy nothing,” which it is the poet's function to clothe with shape and form, and to which he must give “a local habitation and a naine." On the contrary, they are a grim reality to many. Nevertheless, the bulk of verse dealing with political subjects is very considerable, and Mr. George Saintsbury, in his volume of “Political Verse,” has just made a delightful anthology of this kind of poetry. It may perhaps be objected that what Mr. Saintsbury sagaciously calls “political verse" is not poetry at all. That is a plausible objection, but until a satisfactory definition of poetry can be made it can hardly be sustained, if indeed it could be then. At all events there can be no harm in adopting Mr. Saintsbury's phrase and in calling political verse a species of “ applied poetry.".
Political verse may be divided broadly into two kinds ; namely, that which takes the form of satire, and that which takes the form of popular song. The first kind is by far the most usual, and it is for that reason that political verse seems to thrive best during a middle state of human development. It is not of very early growth, partly because political life in its more refined state usually makes its appearance late in human society, partly because printing is so necessary an aid to it, and partly because politics in their earliest form, being both rude and crude, afford little opportunity for its suc. cessful existence. It cannot cope with brute force, and brute force would in early times be the object of its satire. Neither, on the other hand, does a very advanced state of society favour its development, because, though a high state of civilisation and the spread of education greatly increase the number of readers, yet it does not necessarily follow that there is a like gain in depth of thought as there is in a more widely diffused level of general intelligence. It has been thought by some (and Mr. Saintsbury is inclined to agree with them) that there
is some loss in depth, though the general average may be higher. Lord Houghton used to say that you might divide the goodness of your jokes by the number of your audience, or in other words it may be said that the probability of real wit and humour being appreciated stands in an inverse ratio to the number of those who hear it. It is too much to expect a mob to grasp the point of the more volatile and subtle forms of wit. Horseplay is usually more congenial to King Demos, even in the days of Board schools. Ochlocracy and polished humour are mutually exclusive. Then again, when readers are so many, the effect of really good political verse is in a large measure lost. Its power is diffused and diluted. When the circle of readers is comparatively small, and when those readers formed, in the days of a more restricted franchise, the great motive force in politics, to whom it was necessary for statesmen to appeal, political verse wielded a concentrated force. All the world who were of any account in politics read the verse and were moved. Some were amused and some were vexed; but still in some way their feelings were aroused, and the verse had its intended effect. But in these days the best political verse does not reach the great mass of the readers at all, and if it did reach them they would not understand it. And as the franchise embraces such a vast number of those who cannot appreciate the best kind of political verse, the object in writing it is in a great measure lost. It “is mere labour lost," and a throwing of pearls before swine. It is reduced to little more than an academical exercise. True it is that the lower sort of political verse, which runs usually into the form of popular songs, may still wield a great power. But it is certain that in these days political verse can only achieve its full force at the cost of increased rudeness and diminished point and polish. Then again, as political verse usually takes the form of satire, and as satires usually owe some of their pungency and force to the use of personal allusions, it may be doubted whether at a time when recourse is so frequently made to the law courts to seek a remedy for libellous aspersion, political verse is likely to be much cultivated.
We find the earliest approach to political verse among the ancient Greeks, whose nimbleness of wit seems to have made them the forerunners in almost every branch of mental activity. Some of the comedies of Aristophanes, with their satirical hits at the Athenian public men of the day, may perhaps be classified under this head. But at all times the drama is an inconvenient vehicle for political
It is a long step forwards to the Roman satirical poets of the Augustan and subsequent ages. But in Rome, as well as Athens, genuine political verse was very scanty.
The satires of Horace are
really ethical, and not political at all, and Juvenal, though he lashed about him in a thorough and unsparing fashion, directed his shafts rather at the prevailing vices of the time than at the shortcomings of emperors and statesmen. That would have been too unequal a combat. Autocrats make short work with censorious critics.
In English literature we find very little political verse of any account before the seventeenth century. But during that period the Puritans, who were a great political as well as a great religious party, paid the penalty for their peculiarities by laying themselves open to the ridicule of their opponents. Bishop Corbet is one of the Cavalier wits who emptied the vials of his satire upon them. It is noteworthy that though no edition of his collected poems was published in his lifetime, yet he lived to enjoy a great literary reputation. It is an instance of those cases to be presently referred
where, under certain conditions, political verse can live and thrive without the aid of printing. But by far the greatest of the antiPuritan verse-writers was Samuel Butler. His “Hudibras ” is really the prototype of all English political verse. He may well claim the honour of being the pioneer in this department. And not only is “ Hudibras” remarkable as marking an epoch in English literature. It is equally remarkable for its prodigious practical success, and for the influence that it exerted. For about fifteen years Butler seems to have been brooding over and constructing this extraordinary poem. But it was not until the Restoration that he felt himself safe in publishing it, and then he immediately became famous. Everybody who could read, did read it; and those who could not, talked about it. It was recommended to the notice of Charles II. delighted with it. Indeed he must have been infatuated with it, if we are to believe the following lines :
He never ate, nor drank, nor slept,
But Hudibras must with him go. It was certainly one of the greatest literary successes of any age or country, so far as immediate popularity and influence go. vided Charles II. and his court with a most powerful weapon for wounding their opponents, and Butler therefore performed for them a great political service. Nevertheless he languished in the shade of a cold neglect. It is discreditable to Charles II, that he should have permitted him to drag out a miserable existence. He seems to have died so poor that his friend, Mr. Longueville, had to bury him at his own experse. It was not until some fifty years afterwards
that Mr. Barber, then Lord Mayor of London, did something in his honour, by putting up a memorial tablet in Westminster Abbey, in the inscription on which he is rightly called :
Satyrici apud nos Carminis artifex egregius. It is astonishing that not even then could poor Butler be suffered to have his due. For Pope, either moved by envy or mere humorous 'caprice, forthwith penned the following couplet on the incident:
But whence this Barber? that a name so mean
Should joined with Butler's on a tomb be seen. Since Butler, the greatest master of political verse of the satirical kind is unquestionably Dryden. He is perhaps the greatest of all English political verse-writers, or, at all events, of those of the heavier kind. He knew exactly what political verse ought to be like, and his powers were equal to his knowledge. In his dedication of his translation of Juvenal and Persius to the Earl of Dorset, he enters at large upon this subject. He rightly says that satire is improperly used for purposes of personal spite. “In a word,” he says, “that form of satire which is known in England by the name of lampoon is a dangerous sort of weapon, and for the most part unlawful. We have no moral right on the reputation of other men. It is taking from them what we cannot restore to them.” And he goes on to say that this sort of satire can only be justified on two grounds. Either it must be the only means of reparation left open to us, or else the object of the satire must have become a public nuisance, whose castigation would be a public benefit. And then he goes on to speak with some pride of his own example: “I have seldom answered any scurrilous lampoon when it was in my power to have exposed my enemies : and, being naturally vindicative, have suffered in silence, and possessed my soul in quiet.” It certainly redounds to Dryden's honour that he rarely, if ever, prostituted his great satirical powers, or expended them in the mere unworthy gratification of private pique. Moreover, he achieved what Mr. Saintsbury describes as the first requisite in political verse, namely, “ an easy and amused disdain."
The aim of political satire, and indeed of all satire, should be in the first place to render its objects ridiculous, and only detestable in the second place. Horace, though his satire was not political, possessed this quality in a high degree, indeed in a far higher degree than Juvenal. Persius notes this quality in Horace when he writes :
Omne vaser vitium ridenti Flaccus amico