Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

for length and fulness to scarlet dressing-gowns. Fashion then went to the opposite extreme of tight swallow-tails; the latter were succeeded by the morning-coat pattern, now generally giving way to the single-breasted frock.

The Pink ’un" is a sobriquet for the English Sporting Times, which, like its An.erican namesake and imitator, is printed on pink paper.

Pipe - Eye. During the celebrated Westminster election of 1784 the beautiful Duchess of Devonshire enthusiastically espoused the cause of Charles James Fox, going so far as to purchase the vote of a butcher with a kiss. It was on another of these canvassing visits that an Irish dustman paid her the famous compliment, “Let me light my pipe at your ladyship's eyes.” The duchess was delighted, and often said, “Oh, after the dustman's compliment, all others are insipid.” It is not at all likely that the Irishman was familiar with Ben Jonson, yet the same daring figure may be found in “Cynthia's Revels,” Act v., Sc. 2 :

Mer. Your cheeks are Cupid's baths, wherein he uses to steep himself in milk and nectar: he does light all his torches at your eyes, and instructs you how to shoot and wound with their beams. Still less likely is it that he had ever run across the following lines in Tibullus, iv. 2:

Sulpicia est tibi culta tuis. Mars magnæ Calendis
Spectatum e cælo, si sapis, ipse veni,
Hoc Venus ignoscit : at tu violente caveto
Ne tibi miranti turpitur arma cadant.
Illius ex oculis, cum vult exurere divos

Accendit geminas lampadas acer Amor. Pipe of peace, Smoking the,-i.e., to sit in friendly council. A phrase derived from the custom of American Indians, who in making treaties or other friendly negotiations would pass a lighted pipe (called a calumet) from mouth to mouth, to signify the peaceful nature of the meeting. The familiar locution “ Put that in your pipe and smoke it” may have some reference to the phrase.

Pipe-laying, in American slang, procuring fraudulent votes. It is said to have arisen in 1835, when the leaders of the Whig party in New York were accused of a gigantic scheme to bring on voters from Philadelphia. The work of laying down pipes for the Croton water was then in active operation. A certain agent of the Whigs turned traitor and placed in the hands of the Democrats a mass of correspondence, mainly letters written by himself to various parties in New York, apparently describing the progress and success of his operations. In these letters the form of a mere business correspondence was adopted,—the number of men hired to visit New York and vote being spoken of as so many yards of pipe. The Whig leaders were actually indicted and the letters read'in court, but the jury believed neither in them nor in the writer of them, and the accused were acquitted.

Plagiarism and Plagiarists. Is plagiarism a crime? For ourselves we confess that we hold it only a venial offence-unless, of course, it is found out. If a man thrills us with the joy and gladness of a great thought, what matter where he got it? We might have passed our lives in ignorance there. of. The discoverer is as great a benefactor as the originator. And then, to be Irish, the originator may not have originated it. We have often wondered why it was that the stupid ogres and other monsters of the fairy-tales, who wished to give an impossible task to the prince they had got into their clutches, never set him to tracing an idea to its source. Not all the ingenuity of Prince Charming, aided by all the magic arts of all the Grateful Beasts and Enchanted Princesses and other adventitious allies, could have saved that tender young prince from gracing the ogre's larder.

“Of all forms of theft," says Voltaire, “plagiarism is the least dangerous to society." Not only that, it is often beneficial. In mechanics all inventions are plagiarisms. In inventors had not borrowed ideas from their predecessors, progress would come to a stand-still. Shall I refuse to own a time. piece because my watchmaker is not original ? Shall I eschew the benefits of the modern railroad because I find the germ of the idea in the steamengine of the pre-Christian Hero? “A ship,” says Emerson, “is a quotation from a forest.” But inasmuch as it is not enclosed in quotation-marks a ship is rank plagiarism. Shakespeare stole plots, incidents, and ideas from his forerunners. Molière derived not only his plots, but the dialogues of whole scenes, from Italian comedies. Thank God that these great men had no literary conscience! Molière openly acknowledged he had none. “I conquer my own wherever I find it,” he says, with magnificent candor. And we get a new regard for Pope when we find him openly acknowledging, "I freely confess that I have served myself all I could by reading."

Mr. Cordy Jeaffreson has laid down the maxim that originality can be expected from nobody save a lunatic, a hermit, or a sensational novelist. But Andrew Lang calls this a hasty generalization. “People,” he says, "will inevitably turn to these members of society (if we can speak thus of hermits and lunatics), and ask them for originality, and fail to get it, and express disappointment. For all lunatics are like other lunatics, and no more than sane men can they do anything original. As for hermits, one hermit is the very image of his brother solitary. There remain sensational novelists to bear the brunt of the world's demand for the absolutely unheard-of, and, naturally, they cannot supply the article. So mankind falls on them, and calls them plagiarists. It is enough to make some novelists turn lunatics and others hermits."

Let us take the case of Disraeli's famous funeral oration over Wellington. It proved to have been stolen bodily from a review article by Thiers on Marshal Saint-Cyr. A rather neat epigram on the affair appeared in the Examiner :

In sounding great Wellington's praise,

Dizzy's grief and his truth both appear;
For a flood of great Thiers he lets fall.

Which were certainly meant for Saint-Cyr. But now mark what far-reaching benefits accrued from Disraeli's plagiarism. In the first place, he gave a great deal of pleasure to his hearers which he could not have given otherwise. The review article was better than anything he could have offered himself, otherwise he would not have filched it. Now, the pleasure was an actual pleasure ; when the moment had fled, it could not be retracted or embittered by any subsequent development. Then he gave his critics the pleasure of detecting him,-a great delight accorded to a worthy and deserving and very hard-worked class. The whole of England was aroused, amused, and interested. In fact, Disraeli proved himself an allround benefactor. Nobody was injured, not even Thiers. For although we are pleased to say, in our metaphorical language, that a plagiarist shines in stolen plumes, not a plume is really lost by the fowl who originally grew

them.

Disraeli, indeed, was a perpetual plagiarist. There is hardly a clever mot, a quotable saying, in all his books, which can be called original. Who bears him any grudge for that? He may not have mined the gold, bnt he purified it, stamped it with his own sign-manual, and sent it into circulation. The famous passage in his speeches comparing the members of the opposition to extinct volcanoes was inspired by a passage in Hope's “ Anastasius," a book which also suggested some of the best portions of “Tancred." The perora. tion of his speech on the Corn Law Bill (May 15, 1846) was taken from Urquhart's “Diplomatic Transactions in Central Asia.” In the first edition of “Venetia," a passage was "conveyed" from Macaulay's essay on Byron. The famous phrase in “Lothair," “ You know who the critics are, the men who have failed in literature and art," is the expression, almost in the same words, of a thought that had already occurred to Landor, to Balzac, to Dumas, to Pope, to Shenstone, to Dryden. (See CRITICS.)

A correspondent of the Atheneum in 1873 produced some very curious evidence that Mr. Disraeli, when in his novel “Venetia” he sketched Lord Caducis,—who is, of course, intended for Lord Byron,-had before him at least one unpublished letter purporting to have been written by Byron. The letter in question was in the writer's possession, and is dated Pisa, April 12, 1822 (about three months before Shelley's death, when Byron was certainly in Pisa). It contains some sentences which are repeated word for word by Lord Caducis in the fourth chapter of the sixth book of “Venetia :" " When I once take you in hand, it will be difficult for me not 'to make sport of the Philistines.' Now we look upon ourselves as something, ( fellows with some pith ; how we could lay it on! I think I see them wincing under the thong, the pompous poltroons.” And again : “I made out a list, the other day, of all the things and persons I have been compared to. It begins well with Alcibiades, but ends with the Swiss giantess, or the Polish dwarf, I forget which."

The Hon. Mr. John J. Ingalls once performed a feat very like Disraeli's Wellington oration. In May, 1890, he delivered an eloquent eulogy on a recently.deceased gentleman named J. N. Barnes. It was highly praised as a splendid bit of rhetoric. For a few days Mr. Ingalls was the hero of the hour. Then some newspaper fiend discovered that the eulogy had been calmly appropriated from a sermon by Massillon. He published his discovery in those fatal parallel columns which often have proved so deadly a weapon of offence in the hands of the malicious. We will take the concluding paragraph to show the method of the great orator :

To sum up all: If we must wholly perish, This is the conclusion which the phithen is obedience to laws but an insensate losophy of negation must accept at last. If servitude ; rulers and magistrates are but these teachings are right, then obedience to the phantoms which popular imbecility has law is an indefensible servitude; rulers raised up; justice is an unwarrantable in- and magistrates are despots, tolerated only fringement upon the liberty of men,-an by popular imbecility: justice is a denial imposition, a usurpation; the law of mar- of liberty: honor and truth are trivial riage a vain scruple: modesty a prejudice; rhapsodies: murder and perjury are dehonor and probity, such stuff as dreams are risive jests, and their harsh definitions are made of; and incests, murders, parricides, frivolous phrases invented by tyrants to the most heartless cruelties and the blackest impose upon the timidity of cowards and crimes, are but the legitimate sports of man's the credulity of slaves. irrepressible nature; while the harsh epi. This is the conclusion which the philosophy thels attached to them are merely such as of negation must accept at last. Such is the the policy of legislators has invented and fclicity of those degrading precepts which imposed on the credulity of the people. Here make the epitaph the end. If these teachers is the issue to which the vaunted philosophy are right, then we are atoms in a moral of unbelievers must inevitably lead. Here is chaos. that social felicity, that sway of reason, that emancipation from error, of which they eternally prate, as the fruit of their doctrines. Accept their maxims, and the whole world falls back into a frightful chaos.

Charles Reade was quite as skilful an adapter as Disraeli or Ingalls. How many of his best things came out of his scrap-books we shall never know. But we do know that in "The Wandering Heir” he appropriated bodily a not inconsiderable fraction of Swift's “Polite Conversation.” He was denounced by two anonymous writers, who afterwards proved to be an unsuccessful novelist and his wife. Whereupon he came out in a vigorous defence, and, having called his critics“ anonymuncuia, pseudonymuncula, and skunkala" ambushed behind masked batteries, he proceeded to show that the transplanting of a few lines out of Swift, and the welding them with other topics in a bomogeneous work, was not plagiarism, but one of every true inventor's processes, and that only an inventor could do it well.-an advanced theory of course, but we pardon it for the delightful insouciance of its conceit. Reade was always full of charming excuses. When he was attacked for taking a French play by Alphonse Maquet and turning it, without acknowledgment, into the English “White Lies," he simply claimed that he had bought the idea from the original author, and was entitled to use it as he chose. Though this reply did not pacify his critics, we are not sure that it was not excellent good sense. If plagiarism is stealing, surely the thing alters its character when you purchase the property from the original owner.

The compiler of an adequate “Curiosities of Plagiarism” would have to devote a special chapter to the Protean adventures of a novelette by Mme. Charles Reybaud. Let us relate them as curtly as possible. In 1883, Charles Reade published a story called “The Picture in my Uncle's Dining Room." Then the fun began. One lynx-eyed detective found in a forgotten magazine a story called “The Old M'sieu's Secret,” which was almost identical in plot and characters with Reade's story. Then another critic found another story in another forgotten magazine, entitled “Where Shall he Find Her?" (the title is curiously apt), which was also identical in essentials with Reade's story. Things became mixed. Both the forgotten stories were anonymous. Both were so like each other, and so like Reade's, that it was impossible they should have been written independently. At last the mystery was explained. All three, it was found, were adaptations or paraphrases from Mme. Reybaud's “Mlle. de Malepierre." Reade, indeed, had remodelled the story and deepened the dramatic interest, but the paternity was indisputable. Hardly had the smoke of the controversy died away in England when the war was carried into Germany, where one A. von Bosse published in Ueber Land und Meer a story entitled “ Das Lebende Bild,” which proved to be “ Mlle. de Malepierre" again, in Teutonic dress.

It was De Quincey who first pointed out that Coleridge's Hymn is a glo. rious paraphrase of a little-known poem by the German authoress Frederica Brunn, entitled “Chamouni at Sunrise.” Here is the poem as translated by Charles T. Brooks in his “Songs and Ballads from the German Lyric Poets," Boston, 1842:

From the deep shadow of the silent fir-grove
I lift my eyes, and trembling look on thee,
Brow of eternity, thou dazzling peak,
From whose calm height my dreaming spirit mounts
And soars away into the infinite !

Who sank the pillar in the lap of earth,
Down deep, the pillar of eternal rock,
On which thy mase stands firm, and firm hath stood
While centuries on centuries rushed along?
Who reared, up-towering through the vaulted blue,
Mighty and bold, thy radiant countenance ?

Who poured you from on high with thunder-sound,
Down from old Winter's everlasting realm,
O jagged streams, o'er rock and through ravine ?
And whose almighty voice commanded loud,
"Here shall the stiffening billows rest awhile !"

Whose finger points yon morning star his course ?
Who fringed with blossom-wreaths the eternal frost?
Whose name, O wild Arveiron, does thy din
Of waves sound out in dreadful harmonies ?
“ Jehovah !" crashes in the bursting ice :
Down through the gorge the rolling avalanche
Carries the word in thunder to the vales.
“Jehovah !" murmurs in the morning breeze,
Along the trembling tree-tops ; down below

It whispers in the purling, silvery brooks. While De Quincey urges that the mere framework of the poem is exactly the same, he has the good sense to own that by a judicious amplification of some topics, and by its far deeper tone of lyrical enthusiasm, “the dry bones of the German outline have been created by Coleridge into the fulness of life.” Excuse and justification enough. If the people who are inclined to throw stones at Coleridge for this and similar appropriations would only turn their gigantic mental strength to plagiarisms of this sort, they would be a blessing to the community in lieu of a curse.

Gray's “Elegy” has been called a cento by over-nice critics, whose con. science is alarmed by the wicked unscrupulousness of their betters. The very first line they trace back to Dante : The curfew tolls the knell of parting day.

GRAY: Elegy.
And pilgrim, newly on his road, with love
Thrills, if he hear the vesper bell from far,
That seems to mourn for the expiring day.

Purgatory, Canto viii., l. 5, Cary's trans. The gem of purest rare serene, the flower born to blush unseen, the mute inglorious Milton, have been traced back to heaven knows how many paral. lels in Greek, Latin, Italian, and English poetry. (See GEM – FLOWER, MUTE INGLORIOUS MILTON.) But beyond these obvious imitations, does it not owe many of its most felicitous expressions and touches to a trick of inlaying which familiarity with elder poets assisted? To such disparaging queries it might suffice to retort Walter Savage Landor's language applied to critics : “Fleas know not wbether they are upon the body of a giant or upon one of an ordinary size, and bite both indiscriminately."

"Owen Meredith” (Lord Lytton) was one of the most consistent, indefatigable, and audacious plagiarists that ever lived. It is quite possible he never wrote an original line in his life. At all events, every apt or striking line, every pretty sentiment, and every unusual incident in every one of his books has been traced to some original either in English or foreign literature. It was the latter to which he was chiefly indebted. Doubtless he held himself safer there, for when he first came upon the scene Englishmen had small acquaintance with the literature of other countries.

Yet English authors were not quite safe at his hands. Years ago an article in the North British Review called attention to the close resemblance of certain passages in his “Gyges and Candaules” to some of the finest lines in Keats's “St. Agnes.” Verses from other English poets were cited, too, which had been adapted to his own use with very little change. The author of the article, with an urbanity rare in Scotch reviewers of British bards, alluded to this tendency as “the unconscious sympathy of the mocking-bird.” Indeed, the entire British public has treated the noble pilferer with a leniency that is extraordinary when contrasted with its severity to other offenders. When it was first made known, for example, that “Lucile" was a barefaced bit of plagiarism, the English press, for some reason or other, was inclined to hush up the matter ; and to-day there is a large circle of Owen Meredith's admirers

« AnteriorContinuar »