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Essays in Rebellion   By: (1856-1941)

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First Page:

ESSAYS IN REBELLION

BY

HENRY W. NEVINSON

BY THE SAME AUTHOR

NEIGHBOURS OF OURS: Scenes of East End Life.

IN THE VALLEY OF TOPHET: Scenes of Black Country Life.

THE THIRTY DAYS' WAR: Scenes in the Greek and Turkish War of 1897.

LADYSMITH: a Diary of the Siege.

CLASSIC GREEK LANDSCAPE AND ARCHITECTURE: Text to John Fulleylove's Pictures of Greece.

THE PLEA OF PAN.

BETWEEN THE ACTS: Scenes in the Author's Experience.

ON THE OLD ROAD THROUGH FRANCE TO FLORENCE: French Chapters to Hallam Murray's Pictures.

BOOKS AND PERSONALITIES: a volume of Criticism.

A MODERN SLAVERY: an Investigation of the Slave System in Angola and the Islands of San Thomé and Principe.

THE DAWN IN RUSSIA: Scenes in the Revolution of 1905 1906.

THE NEW SPIRIT IN INDIA: Scenes during the Unrest of 1907 1908.

ESSAYS IN FREEDOM.

THE GROWTH OF FREEDOM: a Summary of the History of Democracy.

[Illustration: HENRY W. NEVINSON]

ESSAYS IN REBELLION

BY

HENRY W. NEVINSON

AUTHOR OF "ESSAYS IN FREEDOM"

LONDON

JAMES NISBET & CO., LIMITED

22 BERNERS STREET, W.

1913

First published in 1913

PREFACE

When writers are so different, it is queer that every age should have a distinguishing spirit. Each writer is as different in "style" as in look, and his words reveal him just as the body reveals the soul, blazoning its past or its future without possibility of concealment. Paint a face, no matter how delicately or how thick; the very paint the very choice of colours red or white betrays the nature lurking beneath it, and no amount of artifice or imitation in a writer can obscure the secret of self. Artifice and imitation reveal the finikin or uncertain soul as surely as deliberate bareness reveals a conscious austerity. Except, perhaps, in mathematics, there seems no escape from this revelation. I am told that even in the "exact sciences" there is no escape; even in physics the exposition is a matter of imagination, of personality, of "style."

Next to mathematics and the exact sciences, I suppose, Bluebooks and leading articles are taken as representing truth in the most absolute and impersonal manner. We appeal to Bluebooks as confidently as to astronomers, assuming that their statements will be impersonally true, just as the curve of a comet will be the same for the Opposition as for the Government, for Anarchists as for Fabians. Yet what a difference may be detected in Bluebooks on the selfsame subject, and what an exciting hide and seek for souls we may there enjoy! Behind one we catch sight of the cautiously official mind, obsequious to established power, observant of accepted fictions, contemptuous of zeal, apprehensive of trouble, solicitous for the path of least resistance. Behind another we feel the stirring spirit that no promotion will subdue, pitiless to abomination, untouched by smooth excuses, regardless of official sensibilities, and untamed to comfortable routine, which, in his case, will probably be short.

Or take the leading article: hardly any form of words would appear less personal. It is the abstract product of what the editor wants, what the proprietor wants, what the Party wants, and what the readers want, just flavoured sometimes with the very smallest suspicion of what the writer wants. And yet, in leaders upon the same subject and in the same paper, what a difference, again! Peruse leaders for a week, and in the week following, with as much certainty as if you saw the animals emerging from the Ark, you will be able to say, "Here comes the laboured Ox, here the Wild Ass prances, here trips the Antelope with fairy footfall, here the Dromedary froths beneath his hump; there soars the Crested Screamer, there bolts the circuitous Hare, there old Behemoth wallows in the ooze, and there the swivel eyed Chameleon clings along the fence."

If even the writers of Bluebooks and leading articles are thus as distinguishable as the animals which Noah had no difficulty in sorting into couples, such writers as poets, essayists, and novelists, who have no limit imposed upon their distinction, are likely to be still more distinct... Continue reading book >>




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