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We might suggest that Decadents beat people black and yellow, Futurists beat them black and orange, Neo-Victorians beat them black and magenta; but all recoil from the vulgar alliteration of beating them black and blue. For even style of this severe and classic sort is after all to some extent a matter of taste.Nor indeed is the reference to these new and varied styles irrelevant. It is not a subject for these extreme controversial passions.All this seems to me, with my mild rationalistic mind, excellently summarised in the words, "Joking Apart." Anyhow, this is why I have opened this series with an essay called "An Apology for Buffoons," because it is in some sense, I will not say a swan-song (that ornithological metaphor would not occur to me in relation to myself), but at least a sort of summary of my more frivolous mode of writing, and all that I still think may be fairly advanced for it.Unfortunately, a man fighting what he honestly believes to be false can hardly preserve the glorious immunity of a buffoon.Since I wrote it, I have come to appreciate much more warmly the admirable work of Mr. It was not he, but another critic, with whom I confused him, who made the particular point against alliteration; and the quotation from him was made from memory; and I have not been able to trace it so as to reproduce the exact order of words, the inaccuracy, if any, does not affect the argument; but the article which I had already planned to put in the same magazine, called "Apology to T S Eliot" would have gone far beyond any such verbal point.It would be adding impudence to injury to dedicate a book to an author merely on the claim of having misquoted him; but I should be proud to dedicate this book to T. Eliot, and the return of true logic and a luminous tradition to the world.
Indeed, we might almost invent a sort of colour test, like that which somebody suggested about red grass and green sky as a test of different schools of painting. I recently saw a poem of his praised very highly and doubtless very rightly; though to some extent (it seemed) because it was a poem of profound "disillusionment and melancholy." But the passage specially quoted for commendation ran, if I remember right: "the smell of steak in passages." That quotation is enough to indicate the difficulty I mean.But the only point here involved is that these essays are all under the conditions of controversy, which involve the absolute necessity of disgusting those with whom we disagree on any subject, and boring those who are indifferent to that subject.I have had, if I may say so, a very happy and lucky literary life; and have often felt rather the indulgence than the impatience of critics; and it is in a perfectly amiable spirit that I note that it has involved a certain transition or change.Most of the adverse criticisms written about me strike me as quite true.Where I am in invincible ignorance, I suppose, is in a proper sense of the importance of the things thus rightly reproved. Eliot (see apology in Introduction) as saying that such a style maddened him to the point of unendurance; and a similar criticism of my English was made, I think, by another American writer, Mr. Now I think, on fair consideration, that it is perfectly true that I do use a great deal too much alliteration.