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قراءة كتاب The Continental Monthly , Vol. 2 No. 5, November 1862 Devoted to Literature and National Policy

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‏اللغة: English
The Continental Monthly , Vol. 2 No. 5,  November 1862
Devoted to Literature and National Policy

The Continental Monthly , Vol. 2 No. 5, November 1862 Devoted to Literature and National Policy

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 9

principally for the prevention of cruelty to words, and let the chief officer of the society be so named as to suggest its chief office—that of 'moderator.' And let us hope that as words are the things in question, deeds will abound, as we so well know the truth of the reverse, that where deeds are to be looked for, words prevail amazingly. Outside of its primary beneficent purpose, it may make provision for charities incidental thereunto. It may appoint one committee for the prevention of cruelty to compositors, to examine the chirography of all MSS. about to be 'put in hand,' and, in any case it thinks necessary, return mercilessly the whole scrawled mass to the author to have t's crossed, i's dotted, a's and o's joined at the top, etc., etc. Another privileged three may be merciful to the authors themselves, by providing for the better reading of proofs, by examining and qualifying the readers thereof; a class in this country very deficient, and for a happy reason: namely, that we have not yet a multitude of literary men, very well educated and very poor, who can find nothing better to do. This last committee would find comparatively little occupation, when the previous one had become effective in its line.

To what an illimitable enterprise does the vastness of our plans lead us! Long vistas open before our eyes, with fine prospects for patronage and the gift of many offices. It is at least equal in dignity and grandeur to the city government, and nothing prevents its becoming a vast scheme of corruption, except that it never can, by any possibility, possess a penny of revenue. Of course there should be a committee of repairs and supplies, and one of immigration, the latter to provide for the naturalization of foreign words and their proper treatment before they could take care of themselves; the former for furnishing a supply to meet the growing demand mentioned at the beginning of this article, and for patching up several of the most obvious imperfections we now suffer from. We want a word for the opposite of a compliment. Not that this is as great a defect as the lack of the word compliment would be in these smooth-spoken times, but still the want is felt, and the feeling is shown by such awkward expedients as the expression 'a left-handed compliment.' Then, besides, they might give the seal of legitimacy to a fine lot of words and phrases, the need of which is shown by their being spontaneously invented, and universally adopted by the vulgar; but which are not classic, have never been written except in caricature, and are therefore inadmissible to the writings of us cowardly fellows who 'do' the current literature. For instance: the word onto, to bear the same relation to on and upon, that the word into does to in and within, has no synonyme, and if we had once adopted it, we should be surprised at our own self-denial in having had it so long in our ears without taking it for the use of our mouths and pens.

The judiciary department should have full power to try all defilers of the well of English, be they these offenders we have been talking of—spendthrifts and drunkards in the use of its strong waters—or be they punsters, or be they the latest development of miscreants, the transposers. To the punsters shall be adjudged a perpetual strabismus, that they may look two ways at once, forever—always seeing double with their bodily eyes, as they have been in the habit of doing with their mental ones. Even so to the transposer. Let him be inverted, and hung by the heels till healed of his disorder.

If this idea of an association is seized upon, I should be happy to suggest well-qualified persons for all the offices except the highest. The most appropriate incumbent for that, modesty forbids my mentioning. But the matter must not be let drop. Unless there can be some check put to the present extravagance, we shall all take to swearing, for I am sure that is the first step beyond it.