A Book of Modern Essays

By Bruce Welker McCullough; Edwin Berry Burgum | Go to book overview

CONVERSATION*

A. C. BENSON

(The master of Magdalen, at the time of his recent death in 1925, was still cantering gracefully over the pleasant fields of composition in a manner befitting a late Victorian. It was not that he wrote so many books, though there were plenty of them, but that he appears to have written them all so nonchalantly. But Benson, who was a master at Eton before his connection with Magdalen College at Oxford, had all the miscellaneous information and the tolerance of mood which British aristocrats expect at a headmaster's table after the annual cricket game, especially when the headmaster is the son of a late archbishop of Canterbury.

Perhaps, indeed, the archbishop and not Eton was responsible. For all three of his sons manifested a similar ease in composition. Hugh, who became a Roman priest, was the most intense of them. His novels of Catholic priests and society in secluded country parishes glow with occasional passages of spiritual power. E. F. Benson, a playwright and novelist, author in 1922 of Miss Mapp, a twentieth century Cranford, is more like his brother Arthur. And Archbishop Benson was noted for his tolerant and benign personality.

Family affairs, at all events, have consumed a good share of A. C. Benson attention. In 1899 he wrote a life of his father; in 1915 a biography of his brother Hugh who had died of tuberculosis; and in 1924 he assembled a volume entitled Memories and Friends which is devoted mostly to archepiscopal society. Previous to this work, as a younger man, he revealed his own

____________________
*
From From a College Window. G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1906.

-249-

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A Book of Modern Essays
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Introduction v
  • Contents ix
  • "Highbrow" and "Lowbrow" 1
  • What is a Puritan? 17
  • Portrait of a Family 45
  • The Norwegian Migration to America 63
  • The West and American Ideals 79
  • The Once Open Road 101
  • Sentimental America 113
  • Louisiana: (Madame de la Louisiane) 127
  • Fez 141
  • The Rhythm of Life 147
  • Summer 153
  • On an Unknown Country 161
  • Ideals and Day-Dreams 169
  • Castles in Spain 187
  • Science and the Faith of the Modern 201
  • On Friendship 219
  • A Relic 225
  • The Cheerful Breakfast Table 235
  • Conversation 249
  • Trivia 259
  • On Jargon 265
  • Names Practical and Poetic 285
  • The American Language 297
  • What the American Rhodes Scholar Gets from Oxford 321
  • Literary Taste 339
  • Dickens 347
  • The Vicar of Wakefield 365
  • Don Quixote 373
  • The Novel Démeublé 389
  • The Politics of Martha and of Mary 397
  • Autumn Tints in Chivalry 419
  • Index of Authors 431
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