Morning Post 1905

1905 

The Morning Post appears to have begun publishing Lang’s column weekly on Fridays in April 1905, a practice that would continue until shortly after Lang’s death in July 1912. I note the day of the week below for any non-Friday columns. (Not all 1905 columns have been traced yet.)

January

“Blonde Ou Brune?” Tuesday, 10 Jan. 1905, p. 5. [“Was Jeanne d’Arc a dark or a fair beauty?” Lang reviews the evidence and concludes she had black hair.]

“Compulsory Greek.” Monday, 16 Jan. 1905. p. 9. (BNA). On Professor E. Ray Lankester condemning compulsory Greek, on how it is badly taught without context, and how Lang, as a child  [the “other sort of boy” from F. W. H. Myers] “could have hanged himself for very boredom until Homer was opened, after which he was very happy.”

“Quotations.” Tuesday, 31 Jan. 1905, p. 3. (BNA). [On identifying quotations: Anecdote regarding James Payn of the Cornhill and Sir Leslie Stephen briefly mentioned.]

February

March

“Critical Credulity and Scepticism.” Monday, 27 Mar. 1905, p. 10. (BNA) [On a portrait of Queen Mary (whose jewels matched those pictured) and an autograph of Shakespeare. Lang values a letter’s contents over an autograph.]

30 Mar. 1905 has a review of Lang’s Adventures in Books, p. 2.

April

“Mysterious Miniatures of Mary Stuart.” 14 Apr. 1905, p. 8 (BNA).

“The Decadence of Humor.” 21 April 1905, p. 6. (BNA). [A wide-ranging column discussing the American critics’ reference to the slump in poetry and one critic’s claim [Joaquin Miller’s] that [James Whitcomb] Riley makes up for it all. Lang has not read Riley. Lang discusses humor in numerous authors, including Thomas Antsey Guthrie (Vice Versa), Dickens, Thackeray, Eliot, Shakespeare, and not Ibsen. But in comparison with Fielding, Austen, Sheridan, Swift, Goldsmith, and Thackeray, English literature is not as funny.]

“Australian Taste in Fiction.” 28 Apr. 1905. p. 6 (BNA). Lang reports the results of a poll on fiction by an Australian newspaper, the Argus: the latest reports rank Charles Dickens highly: (1) David Copperfield, (2) Vanity Fair, (3) Lorna Doone, (4) Ivanhoe [Lang wonders “are the voters all boys and girls? Ivanhoe is their favourite among the Waverwleys, but the mature prefer Old Mortality and The Heart of Midlothian“, (8) A Tale of Two Cities and (12) Pickwick Papers.  Other books somewhere in the first twelve are “Westward Ho (another boys’ book), Adam Bede, Jane EyreMonte Cristo, (boys’ book), For the Term of his Natural Life (Australian), and The Cloister and the Hearth.” Lang notes the surprises of who is in and who is out, even to the titles on the Argus list that only have one or two votes. Lang also gives his own list, which is fascinating enough to quote in full:

“The truth is that you cannot make lists of this kind, because there are too many good novels all worthy of places in the first and second twelve. I present a list of twenty-four, and feel that it is utterly inadequate, even confining the choice to writers in the English language. I have only room for one book by one living author: I have to drop Redgauntlet, and the Brontës and George Eliot, and the author of Treasure Island, and scores of other prime favourites among the living and the dead. The names are in order of date, not of merit. By the way, Hawthorne has no backers in the Australian lists, though the voters are fond of Transatlantic fiction. Here follows my pick, “All the winners”!—Tom JonesAmeliaJoseph AndrewsTristram ShandyThe Vicar of WakefieldPride and PrejudiceSense and SensibilityNorthanger Abbey, Persuasion, Waverly, Guy ManneringThe Antiquary, Old Mortality, Heart of Midlothian, Pickwick, David Copperfield, Great Expectations, Vanity Fair, Esmond, The Newcomes, Barry Lyndon, The Scarlet Letter, The House of Seven Gables, Richard Feverel.

May

“The Decay of Learning.” 5 May 1905, p. 8

“The Tribe of Wragge.” 12 May 1905, p. 8

“Brandes on Scott.” 19 May 1905, p. 8

“The Magic Mirror of Ink.” 26 May 1905, p. 8

June

2 June 1905. [Apparently, there is no Lang column on this Friday. A British Newspaper Archive search does not come up with one, and paging through their June 2 digitization also yields no results. No Lang columns come up for other days of the week than Friday in May or June.]

“The Theory and Practice of Faking.” 9 June 1905. p. 9

“Ailurophobia.” 16 June 1905, p. 4

“The Uses of Controversy.” 23 June 1905, p. 9

“History as a Compilation of Omissions.” 30 June 1905, p. 9. [The title is from an Irish scholar, according to Lang. Mentions many omissions, that American schoolchildren, for instance, not taught what they owed to France during the Revolution and that British children not taught about that war at all, etc.]

July

“Picturesque Rivalries.” 7 July 1905, p. 9.  (BNA). [Responding to “Auld Reekie” in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, disagreeing with that author that Robert Louis Stevenson ‘asserted the superiority of English over Scottish landscape’ but rather claiming that Stevenson meant its unfamiliarity was interesting to the Scot.]

“An Adventurous Author.” 14 July 1905, p. 7. (BNA). [About George Bernard Shaw and an American publisher who “proposed to bind [Shaw] to him for life”. Also mentions a publisher’s request that Lang write a “book on the life and adventures of Oscar Wilde”].

“The Drood Case.” 28 July 1905, p. 6. (BNA). “Thirty-five years ago, when I was ‘a struggling journalist,’ Mr. John Jasper was condemned, at Maidstone assizes, for the murder of his nephew, Mr. Edwin Drood. The case has been recalled to my memory by the appearance of Mr. Cumming Walter’s Clues to the Mystery of Edwin Drood.” [Cross-reference: see the September 1905 “At the Sign of the Shipin Longman’s Magazine.]

August

“A Sweet Singer of the Covenant.” 11 Aug. 1905, p. 7 (BNA). “’The conquering cause pleased the Gods,’ but the lost cause is usually dearest to the Muses. The White Rose has had hundreds of poets, from Burns and Scott to Lady Naire and the little-know Gaelic minstrels. But triumphant Whiggery has not been popular with singers. . . . Yet I am much moved by the following appeal of sweet singer of the Kirk of the Free Church.”

“The Great Fake.” 25 Aug. 1905, p. 8. (BNA). [On Ossian, which bored Lang as a child, and Mr. J. S. Smart’s “brief and excellent book” James Macpherson (Nutt). There is also an interesting article on the same page, “Suggestions for Teachers: A Lesson from Boston” on the fact that the British Museum has no reading room for children, while the Boston Public Library does.]

September

“A Victim of Macaulay.” 1 Sep. 1905, p. 7. (BNA). [Discusses A. T. Pollard’s Thomas Cramner (Putnam), or mainly Cramner himself; the title refers to the fact that Bishop Cramer does not come off well in Macaulay’s historiography.]

“Carlyle as a ‘Gousterer.'” 8 Sep. 1905, p. 7 (BNA). [Lang points out the many absurdities in Caryle’s account of John Knox: “It is probable that Carlyle was more intimately acquainted with almost every other subject which he touched, as an historian, than with what he calls ‘the one event of world importance’ in the history of his own country.” Lang also points out many great literary Scots before Knox and rejects Carlyle’s claim that Knox was a necessary prelude to Hume, Burns, and Scott.

“Philosophic ‘Googlies.'” 15 Sep. 1905, p. 7. (BNA). S. R. Bosanquet’s Essays on the Principles of Evil (1842), a pessimistic and sometimes inconsistent book which Lang mainly finds absurd, but rarely finds agreement with.

October

“Losings and Findings.” 6 Oct. 1905, p. 7. (BNA). [Various thoughts on the topic: St. Anthony, Egyptians, an eighteenth-century French missionary in China, Lang’s hallucination at a train station, Zulu losing and finding, other contemporary English examples, dreaming of losses, how to find papers that should be in a certain drawer.]

“Personal Superstitions.” 13 Oct. 1905, p. 9. (BNA). [On rituals, often developed in childhood. Also discusses those of Dickens, Zola, and Samuel Johnson, and the article in the Spectator, “Irrational Habits.”]

“Happy Reviewers.” 20 Oct. 1905, p. 9. (BNA). “For regular, long-continued bliss, give me the modern reviewer of novels. These men and women are always pleased. . .”

“Haters and Lovers of the Past.” 27 Oct. 1905, p. 9. [Mentions H. G. Wells (who ‘roam[s] in the future”, Ann Radcliffe (who he thinks can be read for her own sake, though others disagree), and the “catalogue of the library of the late M. Marcel Schwob.” Discusses differences in taste and differences in how books are bound].

November

“Tweedside Memories.” 17 Nov. 1905, p. 9. (BNA). [Discusses Sir Herbert Maxwell’s The Story of the Tweed, 375 copies of which were published by James Nisbet and Co.]

December

“Indian Conjuring.” 8 Dec. 1905, p. 7. (BNA).

[Other 1905 columns are not yet catalogued.]

This page was last updated on 13 Feb. 2020.