The Father of English Prose Style
IN all study of English literature, if there be any one axiom which may be accepted without question, it is that the ultimate standard of English prose style is set by the King James version of the Bible. For examples of limpid, convincing narrative we go to Genesis, to the story of Ruth, to the quiet earnestness of the Gospels ; for the mingled argument and explanation and exhortation in which lies the highest power of the other side of literature, we go to the prophets, and even more to the Epistles of the New Testament; and for the glow of vehemence and feeling which burns away the limits between poetry and prose, and makes prose style at its highest pitch able to stand beside the stirring vibrations of verse, we go to the Psalms or the book of Job or the prophecies of Isaiah, or to the triumphant declaration of immortality in the First Epistle to the Corinthians. If the whole range of English prose style were figured in the form of an arch, the style of the Bible would be the keystone; and it would be there not only because it is the highest point and culmination of prose writing, but also because it binds the whole structure together. On the one side would be the writing which tends more and more to the colloquial, which, beginning with such finished and exquisite talk as Dryden crystallized in his writings, runs off into the slack and hasty style of journalism; on the other side, such more splendidly and artfully colored prose as Sir Thomas Browne’s or the ponderous weight of Dr. Johnson, degenerating in the hands of lesser men into preciosity or pedantry. To bring the two sides into bearing on each other, we have the common standard ; and the further any writing on either side falls away from that standard, the less it will have of the typical excellence of the national style. With such explanations we fold our hands in the comfortable feeling that here, at any rate, is one question of literature settled for good: the standard of English prose style is the standard of the Authorized Version of the Bible ; that style is so clear and so noble that there is nothing more to be accounted for.
Unfortunately for our rest, however, but fortunately for our appreciation of this great style, the matter does not end here ; for the history of the Authorized Version throws much light on its style, and even to some extent explains its power. From the point of view of style, the King James version of 1611 shows only insignificant differences from the various versions of the sixteenth century : and these versions were the work, not of committees, but of individual men. Furthermore, as I hope to show, the style of all these versions is the style of Tyndale’s version, though his version was in itself incomplete; and what is more interesting, the style of his translation of the Bible is indistinguishable from the style in various other pieces of writing which we have of his. Finally, as in the case of any great master of writing, the life of the man himself, his temperament, his purposes, all throw light on the quality of his writing, and in some degree explain his style; for no man who has the gift of style and does not think about his gift can help impressing himself upon what he writes. In the case of Tyndale, his whole character and life are so notable that no one who is familiar with the meagre record that we have of it will be sorry to think of him as having formed the style of the Bible, and to look to him therefore as the fountainhead of strength and beauty in the written English of to-day.
In order to make this connection clear, I will begin by trying to point out and name the characteristics of English prose style which we have in mind when we speak of the Bible as the standard of that style ; then I will show that these characteristics correspond to more specific qualities in the style of the King James version; then that these latter qualities are all clearly to be found in Tyndale’s version ; finally, I will show how much light is thrown on these qualities by a knowledge of the humility and nobility and apostolic ardor of Tyndale himself.
In general, I suppose that in saying that the English Bible is the measure of English prose style, one would point out for the general qualities of that style simplicity and earnestness. In defining French prose style, one would think first, perhaps, of lucidity, added to keenness and subtlety ; in defining German prose style, rather of thoroughness and the capacity for carrying strangely complicated burdens of thought; but in the case of English prose, since we have had neither an Academy nor a cloistered body of learned men for whom books have been chiefly written, if there is to be a standard which shall be a common measure for Dry den, Swift, Goldsmith, and Burke, or in this century for Macaulay, Newman, Ruskin, and Thackeray, we must find for that common measure a style which will be read by all classes of men, and which will carry the weight of high and earnest ideas. In France there is a gulf between literature and the peasants whom Millet painted ; in England, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, one of the monuments of the language, was the work of a tinker ; and one might recall, too, Stevenson’s story of the Welsh blacksmith who learned to read in order to add Robinson Crusoe to his possibilities of experience. It is a striking fact that, as the generations pass by, the books which are still regularly and constantly reprinted are those like Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver’s Travels and the Pilgrim’s Progress, which appeal not only to a highly educated upper class, but to the moderately educated middle and lower classes: in literature, as in everything else in England and America, the final appeal is to the broad democracy. In the second place, it is notable that the books which do survive, at any rate in the case of prose, — for in the case of poetry final causes are deeper and more complex, — are written so often by men with a purpose, men who have a mission to make the world better. In this century, for instance, it is significant that the masters of prose style have been such prophets, — or should we say sons of the prophets ? — as Carlyle and Newman and Ruskin and Arnold. There is something in the genius of the people which brings the language to its noblest heights when it carries a message that is to arouse the people above themselves ; and something in the genius of the language which makes it inevitable that when the language reaches these high points it shall show most strongly these two qualities of simplicity and earnestness.
In the style of the English Bible it is obvious that these qualities of simplicity and earnestness are dominating and general. A closer analysis adds as the most notable characteristics, on the one hand, the convincing directness of statement and the constant use of imagery, both of which may be ascribed for the moment to the original writers ; and on the other hand, the simplicity of the words, the earnestness and dignity, and the sustained and strongly marked rhythm. As we are concerned here with the Bible only as a work of literature, I may merely note in passing that the directness of statement gives to the style an unsurpassed power of carrying its readers with it; that all the books of the Bible are set forth as statements of facts, never as an apology or justification of the facts; and that the effect of this confidence is to give to the Bible a virility and robustness which in themselves make it a worthy model of a great national style. The constant use of figurative language to expound hard doctrines, too, as in the discussion of faith in the Epistle to the Hebrews, or in the first verses of the Gospel of St. John, explains the power that the Bible has had to speak to all generations, and to set each generation to puzzling out for itself an interpretation into its own ephemeral habits of thought; for concrete things — the lilies of the field, the sowing of the seed, the morning stars — are to us the same things that they were to the men of nineteen hundred or four thousand years ago, whereas abstractions inevitably pass with the generation for whose particular stage of knowledge and thought they were made.
When you turn to the other points, and first to the words, you note at once their simplicity, and that they are prevailingly Anglo-Saxon. The mere fact that they are Anglo-Saxon, rather than French or Latin, means nothing; the significance lies in the fact that AngloSaxon words still stand for the concrete, tangible objects of life, and that our words of theorizing and abstraction we have drawn from the Latin; it is the difference between such phrases as “ this is my body which is given for you ” of the Gospel, and “ not only in quality of external signs and sacramental representations, but in their essential properties and substantial reality,” of the theologians. In the Bible, the way in which the words carry to all men, whether learned or ignorant, the same sense of reality, of the actual things of life, depends on the fact that they are words of the simplest kind, naming the things which are the stuff of every-day experience. Their simplicity not only makes them sure of being understood by all men, but also of meaning always the same things to all men. With this simplicity of language goes always an immense earnestness and dignity of style : the translation as we have it seems fused and transfigured by the glow of an inward fervor. Whether it be in the domestic details of Jacob’s family life, or in the love of David for his son Absalom, or in the world-sweeping imagery of Job or Isaiah, there is the same unstudied, unforced heightening of the substance by the form. These translators could find nothing trivial in the word of God, and their reverence lifted everything to the same plane of earnest and inspired dignity. To a more technical analysis this earnestness and dignity are shown in the rhythm, which is more strongly marked and sustained than in any other work of English prose. This rhythm throbs not only in Job and in the Psalms, where the parallelism of Hebrew poetry produces in English a very firmly stressed balance, but also in the cooler and quieter passages of the narrative books, such as Genesis, and Samuel, and St. Luke. As a whole, it is of course a truism that the Bible is musical and rhythmical beyond the ordinary use of the language. At times, as in the prophets or in St. Paul’s Epistles, it has a fire and vehemence which leave no line between prose and poetry; but even in the narrative the earnestness and glowing faith of the writers and translators, needing a stronger medium than the subdued rhythm-of ordinary prose, struck out the intenser vibration which brings the style near to the stronger and more rapid movement of verse,
Such, then, we may consider the general characteristics of the style of the Bible. Obviously such a style can be, for ordinary winters with ordinary purposes, only a standard : it is not often that there arises a man of the weight of character and the sustained enthusiasm, or a subject of the lasting and dominant interest, that such a style demands. To go back to the figure, the style of the Bible is at the apex of the arch, the most necessary, yet, as the highest, a unique example of English prose. Nevertheless, though the days of the apostles, as of the giants, have passed by, yet the standard remains ; and directness of statement, lasting power of convincing, simplicity of words, earnestness and dignity, and a moving rhythm have been the qualities of every prose style which has become classical in English literature.
Now, these qualities all appear together, for the first time in English, in Tyndale’s version of the New Testament, and they appear also in his own writings as well as in his translations. Tyndale’s active life, it will be remembered, fell in the first third of the sixteenth century : he was at Oxford about 1500, and at Cambridge when Erasmus was teaching there about 1510 ; he published his first translation of the New Testament in 1525 ; and he was martyred in 1536. Before this time English prose hardly existed. Caxton set up his printing press about 1476 ; but the style of his greatest prose author, Sir Thomas Malory, for all its charm and sweetness, is nearly as archaic as Chaucer, and it has far less relation to the realities of our life to-day. In general, those of Tyndale’s contemporaries who had the education necessary to make literature — and it is rare that literature is made except by educated men — were at that time writing in Latin, the universal language of the educated ; they looked down on English as the speech of the unschooled, of the hewers of wood and drawers of water. Sir Thomas More, writing for educated men, put his Utopia into Latin; and as late as 1544 Roger Ascham apologized for writing his Toxophilus in English. I suppose that, to some fastidious churchmen of the time, it may have seemed a blasphemous irreverence to put the word of God into a language that was used only for the commonest needs of life. Tyndale, however, passed by all such narrowness of sympathy and taste; borne on by the great purpose of making “ the boy that drove the plough know more of the Scriptures ” than the learned doctors of his time, he had no theories about the dignity or suitability of the language of his day. He did not hesitate to use the words which served the ends of a vigorous people, living an active and expanding life, to set forth the great and vital truths of the Scriptures ; and he was justified by the result. In his great achievement of making the English Reformation inevitable, he incidentally and quite unconsciously was the pioneer in adding a new language to the field of literature.
In the case of the Bible it is possible to show pretty closely the indebtedness of the Authorized Version to Tyndale’s translations. Briefly, the history of the successive versions of the sixteenth century is as follows : the King James version of 1611 is based (indirectly, through the intermediate Bishops’ Bible of 1568) on the Great Bible of 1539 ; the Great Bible is a revision of Matthew’s Bible of 1537 ; Matthew’s Bible reproduces Tyndale’s version as far as it went, — that is, the whole of the New Testament, and the Old Testament through the second book of Chronicles. Of the other versions which contributed in some degree to the final state of the Authorized Version, Coverdale’s Bible of 1535 was a revision of Tyndale’s with the help of the German translation ; the Geneva version of 1560 was another revision of Tyndale’s and of the versions based on his, this time by the extreme Protestants during the exile; the Rheims and Douay version, which was sent out by the Roman Catholic seminaries in France to offset the Protestant versions, had so little circulation, and is so grotesquely different, that we may neglect it here. How closely all these versions except the last followed Tyndale any one may see for himself by comparing a page at random in the English Hexapla, which prints in parallel columns the versions of Tyndale and of Cranmer, and the Geneva, the Rheims, and the Authorized; in places, especially in the Epistles, one can go four or five lines at a time without finding a single change. Here are two well-known passages from Tyndale :
“ And ther were in the same region shepherdes abydinge in the felde and watching their flocke by nyght. And loo : the angell of the lorde stode harde by them and the brightnes of the lorde shone rounde aboute them and they were soore afrayed. But the angell sayd unto them : Be not afrayed. For beholde I bringe you tydinges of greate joye that shal come to all the people ; for unto you is borne this daye in the cite of David a saveoure which is Christ the lorde. And take this for a signe : ye shal fynde the chylde swadled and layed in a manger. And streight waye ther was with the angell a multitude of hevenly sowdiers laudinge God and sayinge : Glory to God on hye and peace on the erth: and unto men reioy singe.”
And : —
“ But now is Christ rysen from deeth and is be come the fyrst frutes of them that slept. For by a man came deeth and by a man came resurreccion from deeth. For as by Adam all dye : even so by Christ shal all be made alive and every man in his awne order. The fyrst is Christ, then they that are Christis at his commynge. Then commeth the ende when he hath delivered up the kyngdome to God the father when he hath put doune all rule auctorite and power. For he must raygne till he have put all his enemyes under his fete.
“The last enemye that shal be destroyed is deeth. For he hath put all thinges under his fete. But when he sayth all thinges are put under him it is manyfest that he is excepted which dyd put all thinges under him. When all thinges are subdued unto him : then shal the sonne also him selfe be subjecte unto him that put all thinges under him that God maye be all in all thinges.”
Examples like these may be found anywhere in the New Testament, or in Tyndale’s translation of the Old Testament so far as it goes. They would show that the style which Tyndale set in the beginning the successive revisers after him scrupulously respected. By one of the curious unfathered traditions which make up so much of the literary history of the sixteenth century, Coverdale has been generally credited with adding the “ grace ” of style which is said to mark the Authorized Version. “ Grace ” is not a very happy term for any style so robust and earnest, but Coverdale may well share with the other men who worked over Tyndale’s words some of the praise for the perfect flexibility and smoothness attained by the final version: it is enough credit to their discretion and literary sense that they did not blunt the clearness and force which Tyndale left as the crowning virtues of his noble prose. His indebtedness to Wiclif’s version it is hard to fix, for in the one hundred and fifty years between them the language underwent great changes, and, moreover, Wiclif had only the Vulgate to translate from. It is safe, however, to ascribe to Tyndale the important qualities of the style, — the energy, the contagious earnestness, the resonance and vibration that give it power over the deeper feelings, and the lasting vividness of wording by which it holds its place in modern literature. Tyndale, then, in his version determined the style of the English Bible.
What pitfalls might have been in his way we realize when we examine the Rheims version. This translation was sent out in 1582 by the English priests in the seminaries of France to counteract the influence of the Protestant versions, which they could no longer hope to see crushed out. It was such a version as the priests thought could be put into the hands of the laity without tempting them to heresy, so that it was explicitly guided by a theological purpose. The results of the purpose show in such passages as this : “ And beneficence and communication do not forget, for with such hosts God is promerited. Obey your prelates and be subject unto them; ” which stands for the passage in the Authorized Version : “ But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.” Here the very narrowness of the theology betrayed itself : the good fathers were so eager that their flocks should not stray from the narrow borders of the truth as they saw it themselves, that they could be content only with the intellectual precision of theological terms. The “ hosts ” is for “ hostiis ” in the Vulgate, a word that had gathered as definite a theological meaning as had “ prelates ; ” and they used these narrow theological terms, which had for them the only meaning that the church would allow the words to bear, to their own confusion ; for such a version was worse than nothing, to spread among the common people. Perhaps nothing explains more palpably than this translation why the Roman Catholics never regained their hold on England. Tyndale passed far above all such pitfalls : he says in his Prologue to the five books of Moses : “ which thing only moved me to translate the New Testament, because I had perceived by experience how that it was impossible to establish the lay people in any truth except the Scriptures were plainly laid before their eyes in their own tongue, that they might see the process, order, and meaning of the text.” His purpose was too high, too large, to lead him into any danger of forcing personal or local or ephemeral meaning into the words of the Scriptures ; he set it forth in as broad and natural words in the English as he had found it in the Greek or the Hebrew. Instead of narrowing the significance of a simple palpable fact or a figure of speech, as in “ The spirit of God moved upon the water,” in the first verse of Genesis of his version, or in “ We always bear in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus might appear in our bodies,” in his translation of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, he reproduced it exactly as he had found it in the original, leaving it free from all theological interpretation, to speak for itself to different men and different generations.
To go on, however, this same lucidity and simplicity, transfused with a contagious energy and warmth of feeling, are found just as clearly in Tyndale’s own writings. He is so intent on establishing the lay people in the truth that his style is as simple and as limpid as Swift’s, though incomparably warmer. Here is an example of his writing, the close of his Prologue to the second book of Moses : —
“ If any man ask me, seeing that faith justify me, Why I work ? I answer, Love compelleth me. For as long as my soul feeleth what love God hath shewed me in Christ, I cannot but love God again, and his will and commandments, and of love work them, nor can they seem hard unto me. I think myself not better for my working, nor seek heaven, nor an higher place in heaven, because of it. For a Christian worketh to make his weak brother perfecter, and not to seek an higher place in heaven. I compare not myself unto him that worketh not. No, he that worketh not to-day, shall have grace to turn, and to work tomorrow ; and in the mean season I pity him, and pray for him. If I had wrought the will of God these thousand years, and another had wrought the will of the devil as long, and this day turn and be as willing to suffer with Christ as I, he hath this day overtaken me, and is as far come as I, and shall have as much reward as I: and I envy him not, but rejoice most of all as of lost treasure found.
“ For if I be of God, I have these thousand years suffered to win him, for to come and praise the name of God with me. These thousand years have I prayed, sorrowed, longed, sighed, and sought for that which I have this day found ; and therefore I rejoice with all my might, and praise God for his grace and mercy.”
He is so singly intent on making the love of God a working force in the world, and he is so bent on making everything clear to people little used to abstract thought, that his style takes on a quality of firmness and openness of construction that keep it from being archaic. It shows in itself, as in this example, the same power of convincing directness, of simplicity, and of exaltation and glow that I have pointed out as the crowning virtues of the style of the Bible.
But it is possible to go even further. It is true of all literature that there is no good style which is not a sincere style, which is not intimately individual ; therefore, if we accept Tyndale as the originator of the moving power which we find in the style of our English Bible, it must be possible to go further and point out in the man himself the qualities which confer this power. I have no space here for a detailed account of the man’s life: of how, after getting all the education which the English universities could afford him and coming under the influence of Colet and Erasmus, he became from the time of his early manhood possessed with the mission of spreading the truth of the gospel through the whole nation ; of how, when refused permission to make his translation in London, he went into exile in Germany, and there, laboring under hardships and persecutions, he finished the New Testament and sent it secretly to England; and how, laboring quietly and humbly to complete his task, he was finally betrayed, imprisoned, and put to death. The story is best read in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, where it is told with many sympathetic touches of reality. Foxe says of him : —
“ Such was the power of his doctrine and the sincerity of his life that during the time of his imprisonment (which endured a year and a half) it is said he converted his keeper, the keeper’s daughter, and others of his household ; also the rest that were with Tyndale, confined in the castle, reported of him that if he were not a good Christian man, they could not tell whom to trust.
“ The Procurator General, the Emperor’s attorney, left this testimony of him, that he was ‘ homo doctus, pius, et bonus ’ — a learned, a good, and a godly man.”
Everything that we know of Tyndale tells the same story : his whole life was devoted to his mission ; but when he was not called on to testify, he was retiring and deeply humble. Simple - minded, trustful, full of the warmest feelings and affections, he was earnest and glowing in his service of God, broad-minded and single in his clinging to the simplest and highest truths of the gospel. The strength and depth of his belief carried him unflinching to his death at the stake. Even in his polemical discussions with Sir Thomas More, he stands out in contrast to that gentlest and most humorous man of the times for his good sense, for his self-control, for his broad spirit of tolerance and love. For prototypes of him we must go back to the days of the apostles. There is a striking resemblance beween the temper of Tyndale’s own writings and that of the Epistles of St. Paul, a likeness in the habit of thought, in the swift passage from argument to exhortation, in the unconscious personal references, in the eagerness to impress the truth upon the minds of his readers ; and on the other hand, nowhere does the style of the Bible attain a higher earnestness and pitch of feeling than in the translation of the Epistles of St. Paul. It is not fantastic, I think, to argue that this likeness in style is based upon a likeness of character : both were educated men, both were filled with the spirit of God, both were impelled to spread the word of God beyond the limits which had been set by the authorities of the day, both in the end gave their lives for their mission. If there has been an apostle since St. Paul’s times, it surely is Tyndale ; for he had the single love for mankind, the consuming faith, the insight through accidents to the essentials, that made him the man who should bring back the power of the gospel to England. Not every man with a love for his fellow men can do them all the good he wishes ; nor does a perfect faith and an insight that cannot be baffled carry with it always the power of bringing light to other men’s minds : it was Tyndale’s endowment for his mission that he added to zeal love, — the quality which in some ways is better expressed by our broader word “ charity,” — and to them both a scholarship and soundness of judgment that sent him directly and surely to the heart of the problem of giving a new life among his own people to the truths that so deeply moved him. When one has once grasped this nobility and power of Tyndale’s character, all difficulty, I think, disappears in understanding how it was that his style of writing stamped itself so indelibly on the style of the English translations of the Bible. Indeed, prophesying after the fact, it seems inevitable that such strength of feeling and loftiness of purpose must have determined the way in which the great originals should express themselves in the new language. Given truths of such lasting and overwhelming importance, shut up in languages which the people could not understand, it is clear that a mere man of letters or a scholar would in no way have been equal to the occasion. Here was a case when the scholar and the man of letters must be also an apostle inspired with the ardor of the apostolic spirit; and when the scholarship and the instinct for style were so inspired and turned to the service of opening the word of God to a fresh and vigorous nation the product besides its main purpose became also a great monument of literature.
I cannot close more fitly than by setting forth again this character of the man and of his mission ; and to do so I know no passage so illuminating as a letter printed by Foxe in his Book of Martyrs, which Tyndale wrote from Antwerp to Frith when the latter was in prison, before his martyrdom. This letter cannot be assigned to Tyndale beyond all possible question, for writers in those days were accustomed to put words into the mouths of the people whom they wrote about; but apart from the testimony of the letter itself, and from the way in which it is written, there are various other references to it in Foxe which seem to remove all danger in saying that it is Tyndale’s. At any rate, it is worth quoting, if for no other reason than to rescue from oblivion what is at once so noble and so beautiful a piece of English prose and so perfect a portrayal of Tyndale : —
“ Brother Jacob, beloved in my heart: there liveth not in whom I have so good hope and trust, and in whom my heart rejoiceth, and my soul comforteth herself, as in you ; not the thousandth part so much for your learning, and what other gifts else you have, as because you will creep alow by the ground, and walk in those things that the conscience may feel, and not in the imaginations of the brain; in fear, and not in boldness; in open necessary things, and not to pronounce or define of hid secrets, or things that neither help nor hinder, whether it be so or no ; in unity, and not in seditious opinions ; insomuch that if you be sure you know, yet in things that may abide leisure, you will defer, and say (till others agree with you), ' Methinks the text requireth this sense or understanding.’ Yea, and if you be sure that if your part be good, and another hold to the contrary, yet if it be a thing that maketh no matter, you will laugh and let it pass, and refer the thing to other men, and stick you stiff and stubbornly in earnest and necessary things. And I trust you be persuaded even so of me : for I call God to record against the day we shall all appear before our Lord Jesus, to give a reckoning of our doings, that I never altered one syllable of God’s word against my conscience, nor would this day, if all that is in the earth, whether it be pleasure, honour, or riches, might be given me. . . .
“ Finally if there were in me any gift that could help at hand, and aid you if need required, I promise you I would not be far off, and commit the end to God. My soul is not faint, though my body be weary. But God hath made me evil favoured in this world, and without grace in the sight of men, speechless and rude, dull and slow witted; your part shall be to supply what lacketh in me; remembering that as lowliness of heart shall make you high with God, even so meekness of words shall make you to sink into the hearts of men. Nature giveth age authority, but meekness is the glory of youth, and giveth them honour. Abundance of love maketli me exceed in babbling. . . .
“ The mighty God of Jacob be with you to supplant his enemies and give you the favour of Joseph; and the wisdom and the spirit of Stephen be with your heart and with your mouth and teach your lips what they shall say and how to answer all things. He is our God, if we despair in ourselves, and trust in him ; and his is the glory. Amen.
“ I hope our redemption is nigh.
After such words, one can add little. I think that I have shown that Tyndale’s own style at its best rose to the level of the English Bible ; and his own purpose and character were so noble and powerful that they may well account for the splendid style of his translation. His achievement for English prose style always reminds me of the noble passage in The Virginians in which Thackeray, speaking of Washington, points out that in the war which began in the backwoods of America, and spread thence over two continents ; which divided Europe ; which deprived France of all her American possessions, and in the end England of most of hers, — that in all this great war the man who came out with the highest fame and the most glory was the man who fired the first shot. So in the case of Tyndale and the art of writing in English prose : after nearly four centuries, in which the English language has been enormously expanded ; in which it has been exposed to the barbarisms of slang or of the modern scientific diction, and to the Latinisms of an undiluted classical education; in which the style now has been trimmed by the academic rules of Dryden and Dr. Johnson, now has run loose in the rambling euphony of the Religio Medici or the exquisite discursiveness of De Quincey, — after all the action and the reaction of time it is still true that the type of prose style which no good writer can forget, about which all varieties of prose style centre, is the style of the first man who ever used printed English to speak to the nation as a whole.
J. H. Gardiner.