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Notes and Queries, Number 50, October 12, 1850   By:

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"When found, make a note of." CAPTAIN CUTTLE.

No. 50.] SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12, 1850 [Price Threepence. Stamped Edition 4d.




A Note on "Small Words". 305 Gray's Elegy, by Bolton Corney. 306 Gray's Elegy in Portuguese. 306 Further Notes on the Authorship of Henry VIII. 306 Queen Elizabeth and Sir Henry Nevill, by Lord Braybrooke. 307 Minor Notes: Whales Bookbinding Scott's Waverley Satyayrata. 307

QUERIES: The Black Rood of Scotland. 308 Minor Queries: Trogus Pompeius Mortuary Stanzas Laird of Grant Bastille, Records of, Orkney under Norwegians Swift's Works Pride of the Morning Bishop Durdent and the Staffordshire Historians Pope and Bishop Burgess Daniel's Irish New Testament Ale Draper Eugene Aram Latin Epigram Couplet in Defoe Books wanted to refer to Watermarks in Writing paper Puzzling Epitaph Cornish MSS. Bilderdijk the Poet Egyptian MSS. Scandinavian Priesthood Thomas Volusemus. 309

REPLIES: Curfew. 311 Engelmann's Bibliotheca Scriptorum Classicorum. 312 Crozier and Pastoral Staff, by Rev. M. Walcott. 313 Parsons, the Staffordshire Giant, by E.F. Rimbault, L.L.D. 314 Wormwood Wine, by S.W. Singer, &c. 315 Replies to Minor Queries: Feltham's Works Harefinder Fool or a Physician Papers of Perjury Pilgrim's Road Capture of Henry VI. Andrew Beckett Passage in Vida Quem Deus Countess of Desmond Confession Cayell, Meaning of, Lord Kingsborough's Mexico AĆ«rostation Concolinel Andrewes's Tortura Torti, &c. 315

MISCELLANEOUS: Notes on Books, Sales, Catalogues, &c. 319 Books and Odd Volumes Wanted. 319 Notices to Correspondents. 319 Advertisements. 320



"And ten small words creep on in one dull line."

Most ingenious! most felicitous! but let no man despise little words, despite of the little man of Twickenham. He himself knew better, but there was no resisting the temptation of such a line as that. Small words he says, in plain prosaic criticism, are generally "stiff and languishing, but they may be beautiful to express melancholy."

The English language is a language of small words. It is, says Swift, "overstocked with monosyllables." It cuts down all its words to the shortest possible dimensions: a sort of half Procrustes, which lops but never stretches. In one of the most magnificent passages in Holy Writ, that, namely, which describes the death of Sisera:

"At her feet he bowed, he fell: at her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay down: where he bowed, there he fell down dead."

There are twenty two monosyllables to three of greater length, or rather to the same dissyllable thrice repeated; and that too in common parlance proncounced as a monosyllable. The passage in the Book of Ezekiel, which Coleride is said to have considered the most sublime in the whole Bible,

"And He said unto me, son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, though knowest,"

contains seventeen monosyllables to three others. And in the most grand passage which commences the Gospel of St. John, from the first to the fourteenth verses, inclusive, there are polysyllables twenty eight, monosyllables two hundred and one. This it may be said is poetry, but not verse, and therefore makes but little against the critic. Well then, out of his own mouth shall he be confuted. In the fourth epistle of his Essay on Man , a specimen selected purely at random from his works, and extending altogether to three hundred and ninety eight lines, there are no less than twenty seven (that is, a trifle more than one out of every fifteen,) made up entirely of monosyllables: and over and above these, there are one hundred and fifteen which have in them only one word of greater length; and yet there are few dull creepers among the lines of Pope... Continue reading book >>

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