727: And Not England Alone.

“Bourgeoisie,” says Hertzen, “is no other than the sovereign mob of John Stuart Mill’s ‘conglomerated mediocrity,’ which reigns over all things, — the mob without ignorance, but without education as well… Mill beholds everything around him becoming vulgar, small; he looks with despair upon these crushing masses of some prolific spawn, compressed out of the myriads of bourgeois shallowness… He does not at all exaggerate when he speaks of the contraction of intellect and energy; of the obliteration of personalities; of the constant degeneration of life; of the constant exclusion from it of all universally human interests; of its resolving itself into the interests of the counting room and the well-being of the bourgeoisie. Mill proclaims plainly that by following this course England will become China — we will add: and not England alone.”

(Dmitry Merezhkovsky, The Menace of the Mob. New York: Nicholas L. Brown, 1921, pp. 22–23).

727: And Not England Alone.

725: Centres of Associations.

In its happiest efforts, translation is but approximation; and its efforts are not often happy. A translation may be good as translation, but it cannot be an adequate reproduction of the original. It may be a good poem; it may be a good imitation of another poem; it may be better than the original; but it cannot be an adequate reproduction; it cannot be the same thing in another language, producing the same effect on the mind. And the cause lies deep in the nature of poetry. “Melody,” as Beethoven said to Bettina, “gives a sensuous existence to poetry; for does not the meaning of a poem become embodied in melody?” The meanings of a poem and the meanings of the individual words may be produced; but in a poem meaning and form are as indissoluble as soul and body; and the form cannot be reproduced. The effect of poetry is a compound of music and suggestion; this music and this suggestion are intermingled in words, to alter which is to alter the effect. For words in poetry are not, as in prose, simple representatives of objects and ideas: they are parts of an organic whole — they are tones in the harmony; substitute other parts, and the result is a monstrosity, as if an arm were substituted for a wing; substitute other tones or semitones, and you produce a discord. Words have their music and their shades of meaning too delicate for accurate reproduction in any other form; the suggestiveness of one word cannot be conveyed by another. Now all translation is of necessity a substitution of one word for another: the substitute may express the meaning, but it cannot accurately reproduce the music, nor those precise shades of suggestiveness on which the delicacy and beauty of the original depend. Words are not only symbols of objects, but centres of associations; and their suggestiveness depends partly on their sound.

(George Henry Lewes, The Life and Works of Goethe. London: J.M. Dent & Co., 1908, p. 483).

725: Centres of Associations.

721: Civilization.

To civilize meant at one time to wean a savage people from their rudeness. Dr. Johnson would not admit the word “civilization” into his dictionary, though Boswell “with great deference” thought it “better in the sense opposed to ‘barbarity’ than ‘civility.'” Two days earlier, after a discussion on Lord Monboddo’s opinions on the superiority of the savage life, the word “civilities” is used repeatedly by Boswell in the sense of “courtesies.” lf civility were indeed all, there has been but little civilizing among us since Johnson’s time. At one end of the social scale, the respectful salute of the laboring peasant is the exception and not the rule, probably for the logical reason that his respect for “the quality” has diminished. At the other end, what civilities have not vanished? Deportment as a fine art dropped out with the use of the snuff-box and of the subjunctive mood. But the word “civility” was defined by Johnson as freedom from barbarity; and he was justified in refusing “civilization” because it is not to be found in the works which he cited. Johnson’s conservatism and Boswell’s liberalism justified each in his own opinion. The need for the expression “civilization” was in the balance on March 23, 1772. and Boswell was probably right in judging that the time had come for adopting it. Differentiation between civility and civilization was needed when people realized that they could have material progress without an associated intellectual advance; something accomplished, something done, without any corresponding development of mind, morals or manners. The battue, the rubber-cored golf-ball, the halfpenny newspaper and a University degree in Engineering serve as samples of civilization in this sense.

(Alexander Pelham Trotter, “The Tide of Civilization,” The Living Age, Vol. CCXXXVIII, 1903, pp. 379–380).

721: Civilization.

720: A Searcher After Perfection.

One reason for the lack of public interest in men’s attire is of course the undeniable fact that men dislike to do or be anything characteristically feminine. Women will imitate men, but men will not imitate women. Hence men keep quiet about their clothes. The dandies, or the merely well-dressed among them, will put themselves to an immense amount of trouble and expense over clothes, and then make their appearance with a deliberately casual air as though nothing on earth had happened. Save in the strictest secrecy they will never discuss their raiment. They are content with a silent appreciation of their wonderful achievements.

But there is another reason for the lack of public interest in men’s attire. Not merely do we rightly despise the fop — the man who lives for clothes — but we have a prejudice against the man who shows any sustained interest in his dress. (Such prejudice may be a remnant of Puritanism — I believe it is.) And we rather admire the man who will not go to the tailor’s until he is dragged thither by his wife. With this prejudice and this admiration I have no sympathy, and I hope that both are dying out.

I would sooner see a fop in the street than a man whose suit ought obviously to have been sold or burnt last year but one. The fop has at least achieved something and is not an eyesore. The scarecrow is an eyesore and has simply left something undone, either from conceit or from sloth. The fop is not without his use in society. He keeps tailors alert. He sets the pace. He may often be an ass, but he is also an idealist, a searcher after perfection; we have none too many searchers after perfection, and an ass engaged in that quest is entitled to some of our esteem.

The man who for any reason — affectation, idleness, self-esteem — despises clothes and the fashions thereof, implies thereby that fashion is absurd and negligible, and that the sole purpose of clothes is to give a decent and comfortable protection against climatic conditions. This argument cannot possibly be maintained. Fashion is neither absurd nor negligible. It is one of the most powerful influences upon human conduct, an influence which nobody can escape. Artists, for instance, will flout fashion, but only some fashion; they are the slaves of their own fashion. And non-artists who flout fashion in clothes are always the slaves of fashion in some other article — such as tobacco, politics, newspapers.

Further, the sole purpose of clothes — whatever it once may have been — is no longer merely to give protection. An important purpose of clothes is to make a pleasing visual impression — partly on oneself but chiefly on other people. This is unquestionable. Why, therefore, should it not be candidly admitted?

(Arnold Bennett, “Clothes and Men.” In: Things That Have Interested Me. London: Chatto & Windus, 1926, pp. 118–121).

720: A Searcher After Perfection.

719: The Thought is the Man.

Form without a foundation, style without thought — what a poor thing it is! […] The value of the style is exactly equal to the value of the thought. That is the central truth.

Errors of judgment occur in this matter because people believe that there is no style where there is no “poetic style.” They make an exception in favor of Pascal only to count up his antitheses and range them on glazed paper like precious stones. But that is only the shadow of Montaigne. The true Pascal radiates such a light that antitheses are drowned in it and become invisible…

If nothing lives in literature except by its style, that is because works well thought out are invariably well written. But the converse is not true. Style alone is nothing. It will even happen — for in aesthetics as in love all things are possible — that style which makes certain works live for a time, will cause others to perish prematurely. Cymodocea died smothered under her too rich and heavy robe.

The sign of the man in any intellectual work is the thought. The thought is the man. And style and thought are one.

(Remy de Gourmont; quoted in Ludwig Lewisohn, A Modern Book of Criticism. New York: Boni & Liveright, 1919, pp. 36–37).

719: The Thought is the Man.