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once and again, in the course of his life, uttered a No in a firm voice, and as though he meant it. "Ma fierté naturelle est assez satisfaite de quelques Non bien fermes que j'ai prononcés dans ma vie.” Coleridge might have been a happier man, and a more useful, could he have "pronounced” quelques Non equally firm though equally rare. Southey says of him, in a letter to a brother of Kirke White, “ From Coleridge I could, without difficulty, procure you a promise, but am very certain that such a promise would end in nothing. His good nature would render it impossible to refuse, and his habits would render it still more impossible for him to perform what he had thus incautiously pledged himself to do.” Coleridge himself had, in very early life, avowed to Joseph Cottle his weakness in this respect. He says, “ Indeed I want firmness—I perceive I do. I have that within me which makes it difficult to say No!" &c. &c. Sydney Smith, in an apologetic epistle to Jeffrey, declares of himself, “I have such a dislike to say No, to anybody who does me the real pleasure and favour of asking me to come and see him, that I assent, when I know that I am not quite sure of being able to carry my good intentions into execution; and so I am considered uncertain and capricious, when I really ought to be called friendly and benevolent.” However, the vicar of Foston promises to mind his manners in future, and study a clear and correct pronunciation of that difficult little word No.

M. de Sainte-Beuve says of Fénelon that “evidem

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ment il n'avait pas cette irritabilité de bon sens et de raison qui fait dire Non avec véhémence.” Sir Charles Grandison flattered himself that he knew how to say the word so as rather to charm than offend the ear. “By how many ways, my dear Dr. Bartlett, may delicate minds express a denial ! Negatives need not be frowningly given,” pleads Sir Charles, with his best-bred simper. But we are not all of us Grandisons; and for the most part find an agreeable emission of the refractory monosyllable hardly more easy than the two ladies did in Sir Henry Taylor's dramatic romance; where Clara bids Adriana

--ponder well
What

you
shall

say; for if it must be "no"
In substance, you shall hardly find that form

Which shall convey it pleasantly. Adriana on her part confessing, by way of reply, that

-In truth,
To mould denial to a pleasing shape
Is a hard task! alas, I have not wit
From such a sharp and waspish word as no"

To pluck the sting. There are human beings, of a demonstrative and exaggerative sort, French and others, who have a habit of saying, on very slight occasions, and when only a mild negative is really called for, Mille fois Non! A very puzzle must the folks who are always saying a thousand times No! be to those who for the life of them can't

say

it once.

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a

TOO STRANGE FOR FICTION, NOT TOO

STRANGE TO BE TRUE.

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WHEN the merrily malicious conspirators in “Twelfth Night” have succeeded, to the top of their bent, in befooling Malvolio, and making him go all lengths in extravagant conceit, one of them, Sir Toby, almost doubts his own eyes, while another, Fabian, protests that, were the thing produced in a play, it would seem too utterly improbable for acceptance.

Is't possible ?” is Sir Toby Belch's incredulous exclamation, his note of admiration and interrogation in one, at the preposterous procedure of my lady's steward. And Fabian's equal amusement and amazement find vent in the assertion,

“ If this were played upon a stage now, I could condemn it as an improbable fiction.”

Hermione, in the “Winter's Tale," recounting her wrongs before the king her husband's high court of justice, declares them to be so great, that, in effect, they too, if played upon a stage, might be condemned as a too improbable fiction. Her present unhappiness, she asserts, is

-more

Than history can pattern, though devised

And play'd, to take spectators. Shakspeare's Duke of Norfolk, again, in his description of the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and of the presence and prowess there of “the two kings, equal in lustre,” works it up to this climax :

-When these suns
(For so they phrase them) by their heralds challenged
The noble spirits to arms, they did perform
Beyond thought's compass; that former fabulous story,
Being now seen possible enough, got credit,
That Bevis was believed.
Buckingham.

0, you go far.
Nor. As I belong to worship, and affect
In honour honesty, the tract of everything
Would by a good discourser lose some life,
Which action's self was tongue to.

To apply Horatio's exclamation :

Before my God, I might not this believe,
Without the sensible and true avouch
Of mine own eyes.

And, once more, in the honestly indignant remonstrance of Lodovico against what he witnesses, but scarce can credit, of Othello's brutality to the gentle lady married to that Moor:

My lord, this would not be believed in Venice,

Though I should swear I saw it. Ben Jonson, in his “Catiline,” introduces Cicero and Fulvia in conference about the conspiracy—and thus the consul is made to address his confidanteinformant and informer in one-in his utter amazement at the atrocious designs she is come to reveal:

Sit down, good lady ; Cicero is lost
In this

your fable : for, to think it true
Tempteth my reason, it so far exceeds
All insolent fictions of the tragic scene.

Another passage of Jonson's, that runs closely parallel with the Shakspearean sentence touching Malvolio, is that in which Peregrine is made to say, aside, of Sir Politick Would-be,

-0, this knight,
Were he well known, would be a precious thing
To fit our English stage : he that should write
But such a fellow, should be thought to feign
Extremely, if not maliciously.

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There is a Mr. B—y who figures in Madame d’Arblay's Diary, of whom this passage serves to remind us-Fanny Burney getting by her own account absolutely ill with laughing at this gentleman: he

half convulses” her: his extreme absurdities “are so much more like some pragmatical old coxcomb represented on the stage, than like anything in real and common life, that I think, were I a man, I should sometimes be betrayed into clapping him for acting so well. As it is, I am sure no character in any comedy I ever saw has made me laugh more extravagantly.” Maybe, had the lady noticed that the old gentleman's name began and ended with the same letters as her own, she would have found some other

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