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letters, who is the Chairman of this Society, to of letters. Of course, by "aristocracy," I mean propose this evening the toast of “Literature, the influence and recognition of what is best, and Science, and Art,” my first impression was that it I think that in this age an aristocracy of letters would be difficult for any man, and for me well might well be maintained. But, sir, if it is to be nigh impossible, to rise to the height of so great a maintained, is it not the fact that it must be imbued task ; but on further reflection it occurred to me with a deep reverence for tradition. Whatever that perhaps I was taking the toast, and myself as position we men of letters may occupy in the well, a little too seriously, and I remembered present age, we at least have had great ancestors, that in days less decorous, but perhaps more and the greatness of those ancestors, it seems to convivial than these, there invariably appeared in me, compels us in our turn, whether we succeed or the programme of a festive evening the toast whether we fail, at any rate to try to be great, or “Our noble selves.” Well, sir, in an assembly they will reproach us if we fail to do so. But what consisting for the most part of men of letters, of was it that made the distinction of those ancestors ? men of science, and of artists, what after all is the Surely it was the manner in which they presented toast of “ Literature, Science, and Art,” but the their thoughts, the methods by which those great ancient toast "Our noble selves"? So far as writers contrived to insinuate their thoughts at science and art are concerned, I almost think that once, and to make them abide for ever in the minds toast is superfluous. Science certainly has received of men. In a word it was the style, style, which is abundant homage in this way: it has been hailed, the most aristocratic of all things, because it implies justly no doubt as the master of the modern world, absolute self-respect on the part of the writer, and a and art too it seems to me, still enjoys the favour most perfect consideration and deference for those of princes, and the deference and adulation of critics. whom he addresses; surely without style, before But I feel sure that literature stands in poorer these days, no one would have supposed that there case. Whatever we men of letters may think of could have been such a thing as literature at all. ourselves, I fancy the present age thinks very little Nevertheless, I suppose we shall all be of opinion of us, most people in the present generation it that even the claims of style may be pressed too seems to me, being of opinion that the writing of far. Everything in this world most readily and great works is a thing no longer worth doing, or most rapidly tend to degeneration and to decay, that writing is a thing that anybody can do. In and it is conceivable that a select class of writers, the face of such an attitude towards letters, is it animated by a passionate attachment to style, may nöt natural, nay indeed, is it not necessary to ask end by caring for nothing else. ourselves the question-What is literature? But Now, substance without form is better than form the moment we propound that question we find without substance; and is it not possible that in ourselves confronted by two principles, two opinions, our search for that harmony, that common ground, that are a little hard to reconcile. Is lit rature of which I spoke, between the champions of easy whatever people may choose to write and publish, going comprehensiveness on the one side, and or is it that finer breadth of knowledge, that finer fastidious exclusiveness on the other side, with spirit of thought, that finer form of expression, regard to literature, is it not possible that we may which, as we all know, is the secret of only a now have come upon that very thing of which we minority of those who write ? In a word, is are in search? The barbarians destroyed the literature something refined, elevated, fastidious- Roman Empire, but in that very act they renovated allow me the word exclusive or is it on the other the world and sowed the seeds even on the fields hand something broad, comprehensive, familiar, they devastated, of the love of literature in the and in which anyone, if so he chooses, may share? future. And may we not be seeing at this moment The man who in these days seeks to be the something akin-something analogous ? I think champion of exclusiveness, or indeed of superiority the masters of style whom I see around me to-night in any form, sets himself a difficult, an invidious, will concur in the observation that in this age there and certainly a most unpopular task. Yet in an has been a tremer lous irruption of barbarians into assembly like this--an assembly consisting of men the domain of literature; but instead of reviling who are proud of literature, proud of being men of them should you not receive them with open arms? letters, and to whom the only patent of nobility They bring with them I suppose the modern spirit. that they would think of for a moment, is literary Their baggage may be sometimes rude and distinction-perhaps I may be allowed to add, in occasionally perhaps a trifle scanty; but at any rate which, so far as I can observe, any belief in any it is new and it is their own. Nor do I think there other form of aristocracy, is well nigh dead-it may is any fear of their overwhelming you, the masters still be desirable to maintain an aristocracy; it may of style. At any rate they will not overwhelm you be a natural, but withal a recognisable aristocracy permanently nor for ever keep back from mankind
that in you which deserves to be perpetuated and Professor Hales: Professor Jebb, ladies and when the fear of their onset, the onset of these gentlemen, at this late hour of the night I will barbarians, has passed away, style, like Shelley's not waste your time. Though I am sorry that no cloud, will "silently laugh at its own cenotaph," and more worthy name than my own could be selected changing, but never dying, will arise after a time to respond to this toast, I thank you sincerely for and re-assert its perpetual fascination.
the honour you have done me. One thing strikes Therefore I am sure I shall most faithfully carry me forcibly, however. I can imagine the amazeout your behests if in proposing the toast of ment with which the authors of the last century "Literature, Science, and Art," I regard literature would have contemplated such a sight as we are in no narrow spirit, but in the broadest possible witnessing here to-night, downright regular authors signification, heartily sympathising with all those, dining in state as we are dining this evening. whether they may be masters or apprentices, whether (Laughter.) poets or novelists, historians or artists, dramatists Professor John Eric Erichsen: Mr. Chairman, or journalists, who aspire to be regarded as men ladies and gentlemen, when the history of the of letters.
nineteenth century comes to be written, the future Many of us are of opinion that the state of Lecky of another generation will have the task English Society with its infinite variety and easy, before him of endeavouring to show the great and endless gradations, is the most satisfactory, as deep influence that science has exercised during assuredly it is the most natural that the world has the Victorian age, and not in its academic, or so ever seen. And is not this infinite variety—are not to speak, its scientific relations alone, but in all these easy, endless, elastic gradations represented that concerns the improvement of the social conin literature? It is no question of high and low; ditions and the well-being of man, and in much it is no question of superior and inferior ; it is only that concerns the political and international relations a heterogeneous but harmonious company, ani- of the civilized communities of the world. Every mated by a common animation, and marching on century is an epoch or presents an epoch peculiarly to a common end under the banner of a generous characteristic of itself in which some dominant brotherhood.
method of thought has found expression and has And here, sir, I think I might cease to occupy influenced the feelings and the work of mankind; your attention, were it not that I find that in this and one may truly say that science in the nineteenth toast science and art are coupled with literature, century governs that expression. If we compare the and I should gladly testify, however inadequately, position of science as it was in the first decade of this to the close kinship which subsists between litera- century with that which it now occupies in the last ture and science, and between science and art. decade, we cannot but be struck with the enormous
Many persons in these days have expressed grave progress that it has made and the enormous anxiety lest science, with its hard-headed temper influence that it is exercising upon all classes and and practical spirit, should prove to be the enemy all conditions of the community. If we look back of literature. Surely, sir, there never was a more to what natural and applied science was in the idle or more unfounded fear. Astronomy, I sup- earliest period of this century-in the first decade pose, is the oldest of the sciences; but surely the of this century-and compare it with what it is definite and helpful discoveries of Kepler and now, we shall be struck with this enormous Copernicus, or of Newton and Galileo, have in no difference-we shall see that in the early period degree diminished the magic and mystery of the of this century what is called Natural History or stars. But there is a still more helpful relation Zoology was really nothing but a description of between science and literature. It is more than animals, the collection of stuffed beasts, the 250 years since Harvey published his celebrated classification of plants, and the giving, as it was treatise on the circulation of the blood, but I somewhat cynically termed, of “barbaric names to suppose that neither lovers nor men of letters worthless weeds," we shall find that more than half discourse less effectively or less fervently about a century had 10 elapse before that great doctrine of the heart than they did in days of old when Helen evolution which has exercised so deep an impreswas killed, or Dido was abandoned.
sion, not only upon the scientific, but on the With regard to the connection between literature philosophic and religious thought of this generation and art, I prefer that Professor Conway should had been put forward by Darwin. If we look discourse upon that subject. Therefore, ladies and at the other natural sciences, and I shall not gentlemen, I propose to you the toast of “ Litera- attempt to lead you through them-we shall ture, Science, and Art,” coupled with the names of find the same remarkable fact—that chemistry, Professor Hales, Professor Erichsen, and Professor which was only getting into the position of a Conway. (Cheers.)
science under the guidance of Davy and Wollaston, has now become not the handmaiden but the master store for science. Any day may bring forth a of every technical art, of every manufacture, and discovery that may revolutionize the world. We has contributed largely to the comfort and happi- are ever on the threshold, as it were, looking over ness of mankind. We shall find if we look back boundless plains of research, great fields of knowto physical science, greatly advanced as it was, ledge which may yield most fruitful results. that the professors of it had not the remotest Whatever may happen in the future, if we may conception of the enormous strides it was destined judge from the past, we may be sure that nothing to take in days antecedent to railways and loconio- but benefit from science will accrue to mankindtives-still more was it impossible, in the wildest that his social condition will be improved, that his dreams of science, to think of locomotives not only intellectual status will be raised, and that he will running along a level plane but ascending moun- have a wider horizon of knowledge constantly tain sides, tunnelling through Alpine chains for many spreading before him in the field of science. miles, carried aloft on gigantic structures many (Cheers.) hundred feet high above arms of the sea, and founded Professor Conway: Ladies and gentlemen, I upon bases that were buried a hundred feet below will only detain you for one moment, and during the surface of the tide. If we look to the other that moment I will express my astonishment at sciences, to electricity, for instance, which at that “Art having been included in this toast. I have period was simply a toy to amuse schoolboys, or been debating in my own mind during the course to instruct the audiences of mechanics' institutes, of dinner for what reason it has been done, and it we find now, beating gas as an illuminant, that other was not until I heard the words of the Chairman great power which has been created almost within with reference to the art of publishing that I underour own time, that it has in the electric telegraph stood why art should be included in our toast list. connection in every part of the world, that by Unfortunately, I am no representative of that art. telephone it conveys, not only the voice, but the The only art I know is the art of listening, and I very tones of that voice, to a distance of hundreds hoped that I should not have been called upon of miles, that by the phonograph it records on for an after-dinner speech. almost indelible tablets the accents in which those Professor Michael Foster in the absence of Mr. words were spoken. And if we go to other George Augustus Sala) then proposed the toast of departments of Science—to that with which I “ The Guests." He said : Mr. President, ladies am the most 'conversant-we shall find that by and gentlemen, I am very sorry—it is not necessary those inestimable chemical agencies pain has been for me to say—that I am not George Augustus rendered a thing of the past, that surgery has been Sala. Why George Augustus Sala is not here and deprived of its terrors, that procedures which where he may be at the present moment I do not appalled the stoutest, the most heroic breast, are know; but I am very sorry that he is not herenow submitted to by the most timid person with sorry for those whose health he was about to procomplacency and without a murmur.
pose, sorry for those who were about to listen to triumphs of science are enduring; they are perma- him, and sorrowing still more for myself who have nent, and can never be lost to mankind. There is to put my diminutive feet into his somewhat roomy no such thing as retrogression in science ; science shoes. (Laughter.) Who I am does not, I think, never moves in circles, but ever in advance; year concern you to know; it is sufficient to say that I after year some fresh position is conquered, often belong to a large class, to those who cannot say it is true, after a hot conflict, though happily not a “no" when Walter Besant asks you to do a thing, sanguinary one; and once having been obtained, and I do it under circumstances of great difficulty. it is never lost. There is no finality in science. Just before dinner in the room down below, when Art may be final—it may be final, if not in its we were expecting the time when the clock would conception, at all events in its perfection ; but strike half-past seven precisely, I was talking to science is illimitable alike in its conception and in one of our distinguished members, and he drew the its execution. What our ancestors knew' we well conversation towards speeches after dinner, and I know, and we know much more than they did. thought then that I had no speech before me. I What they could do we can accomplish, and more do not like to quote his exact words—in my scien-more than they ever dreamed of accomplishing. tific memoirs I always quote the exact words of The same will be the case with our successors authors-in this assembly I feel a diffidence in undoubtedly. They will stand in the same relation doing so, but I will give you the effect, and it was to us that we now stand in in regard to our that instructive speeches after dinner are detestable. predecessors.
Now I must unfortunately, be instructive, because Great as the triumphs of science have been, there I have to propose to you “The Guests,” and are yet, in all probability, greater triumphs still in although they are known to all the world they are
not all of them known to all of you. In the first place, to the toast of the Institute of Journalists, and you there is Mr. Gilzean Reid, who is the President of may rest assured that I am as anxious to get rid of the Institute of Journalists, which is a kindred it as you are to get rid of me.
I must protest Institution with similar aims and identical objects. against being classed as a guest. I may claim in If that is so Mr. Gilzean Reid is not a guest but a one respect to be an author, as I wrote a book brother. Then there is the German Society of which had a circulation of 1,400, which was sold to Authors, represented by Herr Brand, who has the public at 6s., and which brought me the handalready been referred to by the Chairman, and on some recompense of £2 125. 3d. I also wrote the principle that bis dat qui cito dat and therefore another book which had a circulation of 100,000, qui bis dat cito dat, the toast will get to him all and which never brought me a farthing profit. And the earlier if I ask you to repeat what has been therefore I think I can claim to be one of yoursaid. Then we come to a whole group which, selves. We have not present here to-night George in the instructions that Mr. Walter Besant has Augustus Sala, and I always feel that a meeting of kindly given me, is spoken of as our American literary men is defective without his genial sparkling friends, and here again I must commit an act of picturesque personality, which has added lustre to a reduplication. The first name I have to mention great profession. (Hear, hear.) Let me say we, is that of Mr. Geo. Haven Putnam, the greatest the Institute of Journalists, are entirely in sympathy friend of American Copyright. I have further to with the Society of Authors, and you may rest mention Mr. Harry Harvey, who is well known all assured that we shall continue, as we have been over America—and perhaps I might venture to doing, to work together for common and benesay in the obscure little island of England-as ficial ends.
. There are many common ends to Sydney Scott. Then there is Mr. Bailey Aldrich,
can co-operate, and to which an American poet, whom an English poet dares have co-operated with this Society of Authors in to welcome as his guest. Lastly there is Mrs. seeking to promote an equitable distribution of the Chandler Moulton, the American poetess, with property in literature, and we have agreed to cowhose poems all of us are familiar. Then I come operate in trying to establish an equitable interto one of whom, perhaps, though she is last is not national scheme of copyright, and I hope we least. Arriving at King's Cross this afternoon I journalists shall also co-operate in exposing those had an opportunity of a hurried word with a lady publishers—for a few still remain—who, whether who is not distantly connected with your Chairman. they be artists or not, know something about being I spoke to her of the interest attaching to ladies artful dodgers. (Laughter.) dining in public with gentlemen. She said she Let me say that our Institute has made consideralways thought that ladies were in the way; she
A few years ago we had only a then rushed into a cab before I had time to say handful of members; to-day we have between two that that way was in all cases a shining way. But and three thousand; and I can fairly say that our perhaps Walter Besant will allow me to say that membership represents nearly all that is best and with all respect for the great deeds that you have certainly all that is thoroughly representative in done of late, I am inclined to think that the great Journalism. A friend has hinted here that the times work of this Society of Authors has been that have changed. In the days of Queen Anne Acts were they have instituted the practice of ladies dining introduced to restrain and repress and tax newsin public with gentlemen. (Applause.) I do not papers. The press of the country was even then know how the ladies have stood the severe baptism becoming too powerful for the powers that were. of smoke, as my friend near me calls it, to which But a great change has taken place since that time. they have been subjected; but I trust that in spite Within the last few months another monarch, of that and in spite of the speeches to which they good Queen Victoria, has given the journalists of the have listened and to which they are listening, they Empire a royal charter, which enables them to define have passed a pleasant evening. (Hear, hear.) their position, to secure privileges, and to establish
Ladies and gentlemen, I propose to you "Our a scheme of administration and education; and we Guests," mentioning particularly the names of Mr. shall work on as we have worked with this Society Gilzean Reid, the President of the Institute of of Authors, and other kindred institutions, so that Journalists, Herr Brand, and Mr. George Haven we may establish that which will be in truth a real Putnam. (Cheering.)
and healthy brotherhood of the pencil and the pen. Mr. Gilzean Reid: Mr. Chairman, Professor (Cheers.) Foster, ladies and gentlemen, I can assure you that Herr Brand: Ladies and gentlemen, I beg to I shall not occupy your attention very long. A thank you for inviting me to this charming assembly friend has reminded me that this is only the three to-night. I shall not fail to report it in the proper hundred and thirty-ninth time that I have responded quarters, hoping that if any of you were ever to come to our assemblies, you would be made to feel welcome the other side. But these are practically, as between in the very heartiest manner as we have been made to honest publishers and honest authors, matters of feel welcome amongst you here to-night. I am afraid detail. I look forward to the day when authors all we could not offer you such a splendid banquet, but over the world will be receiving the highest we would try to make up for that in the extension remuneration. Then authors will become princes of our festivities. Our annual assembly actually of finance, as well as princes of literature. extends over three whole days and part of the night Mr. Oscar Wilde : Ladies and gentlemen, I as well. (Laughter.) It is chiefly devoted to the confess that I am of opinion that in the case of transaction of the business of the Society, but still authors while speech is silver, writing is gold, and there remains some time left, as there was last that on the whole those of us, who claim at all the summer in Frankfort-on-the-Maine, for a festival distinction of being men of letters, should not performance at the Opera one night; for an get up after dinner and make serious speeches, excursion to the Rhine; for an excursion to except for the purpose, so necessary in a great reWiesbaden, and for a few other entertainments. ligious country like England, of conveying in a With those exceptions the time was strictly devoted certain popular manner the sense of the tediousness to business. This summer, next month, the gather- of eternity. But on the other hand when I was ing will take place at Breslau, and if any of those invited by the Committee of this Society to propresent here to-night should be there, we shall offer pose the health of our Chairman this evening, I them a hearty welcome. (Cheers.)
felt that no incorporated author could attempt to Mr. George Haven Putnam: If I remember my draw back. This is, ladies and gentlemen, our Scriptures, directly Daniel was able to get safely out
third banquet. We had first Mr. Bryce, and I of the Den of Lions he made a speech; but I do think it was a privilege to us to have as guest not think he was asked to make a speech before he on that occasion a man so loved and so honoured got out. (Laughter.) I am conscious of being a amongst the people of the largest English-speaking publisher; however, I am not come here to speak country in the world, as Mr. J. Russell Lowell. these words to-night in the role of a publisher ; but Lord Pembroke, an author and a
man of only because my business happens to be associated culture, and one whose name being so intimately with international copyright. On behalf of the connected with English literature, going back inassociated trades of authors and publishers of the deed to Elizabethan days, conferred distinction United States, who have been doing very hard work upon our Society. And to-night we have to welunder circumstances of some little discouragement come as our Chairman Professor Richard Claverand difficulty, I have to express to this Society house Jebb, who is known, not merely in England, that it is their fixed intention to carry on that work but certainly in Germany, France and Holland, and with the hope that in the future international everywhere where Greek and Latin literature is copyright will be put in a proper position of read, as a scholar and a man of letters. (Cheers.) solidarity, and that the relations of authors and I must confess, sir, if you will allow me to address publishers will be put on a proper footing. I need you personally, that I think that you, in confining only say with regard to the work already
done, and yourself to the wide sphere of University life, have in connection with the discouraging vote in the chosen the better part. The man of letters, on House of Representatives a few weeks back, a great the whole, should live in a University and with deal has been done in the United States. As you University surroundings. We have constantly beEnglishmen know, we have used English books fore us the irresistible temptations of modern life, very largely during the last century, and not paid and now and then a dreadful rumour appears in for them. A great many of the States have instructed the papers that many of our most popular writers their representatives to vote in behalf of authors, are tempted to abandon literature for other things. both English and American, and the middle States, I remember the pang that shot through many of and the greater portion of the States of the North us when we read in the Times one morning that West, voted solidly in support of that Bill. So that Mr. Walter Besant was going to become a member we have won over communities, and the work of of the County Council. Subsequently there apwinning over communities will still go on, and will peared a statement that Mr. Rider Haggard, denot be so long a task as people here dreaded. I siring to find a fuller scope for the mendacity of look forward to the day when all these difficulties Allan Quatermain, intended to seek distraction on between authors and publishers will be settled on a political platform, and that charming and graceful a mutually remunerative basis. Publishers will writer, the author of "Obiter Dicta,” has lately soon I expect have an association of their own, and joined the minority in the House of Commons. we shall hear of the grievances of publishers against Yes, sir, you have chosen the better part. A authors, and we shall then have our own organs on scholar-a man of letters--should not live in