Nocturne

Nocturne

Description

'But do I see afore me, him as I ever sported with in his times of happy infancy? And may I-may I?' "This May I, meant might he shake hands?" -DICKENS, Great Expectations. I do not know why I should be so overpoweringly reminded of the immortal, if at times impossible, Uncle Pumblechook, when I sit down to write a short preface to Mr. Swinnerton's Nocturne. Jests come at times out of the backwoods of a writer's mind. It is part of the literary quality that behind the writer there is a sub-writer, making a commentary. This is a comment against which I may reasonably expostulate, but which nevertheless I am indisposed to ignore. The task of introducing a dissimilar writer to a new public has its own peculiar difficulties for the elder hand. I suppose logically a writer should have good words only for his own imitators. For surely he has chosen what he considers to be the best ways. What justification has he for praising attitudes he has never adopted and commending methods of treatment from which he has abstained? The reader naturally receives his commendations with suspicion. Is this man, he asks, stricken with penitence in the flower of his middle-age? Has he but just discovered how good are the results that the other game, the game he has never played, can give? Or has he been disconcerted by the criticism of the Young? The Fear of the Young is the beginning of his wisdom. Is he taking this alien-spirited work by the hand simply to say defensively and vainly: "I assure you, indeed, I am not an old fogy; I quite understand it." (There it is, I fancy, that the Pumblechook quotation creeps in.) To all of which suspicions, enquiries and objections, I will quote, tritely but conclusively: "In my Father's house are many Mansions," or in the words of Mr. Kipling: "There are five and forty ways Of composing tribal lays And every blessed one of them is right."

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