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100 years ago: A poet and a precedent

01 April 2009

The Church Times, April 2nd, 1909.

ARE we not overdoing the centen­arian business? Would anyone have been more amazed at the Fitzgerald Centenary, which certain enthusiasts celebrated on Wednesday, than Ed­ward Fitzgerald? We take leave to doubt if, in his most exalted moods, that eccentric and interesting person ever supposed that any of his country­men would portend that he could rank with the Immortals. Even if we were to grant, which we do not, that the version of the Rubaiyat is anything more than a clever para­phrase of of a disagreeable Oriental poem by a Western writer with the scantiest knowledge of Eastern literature and speech, we should still hesitate to think him worthy of the fuss that some people are making over him. The amiable enthusiasts of the Omar Khayyam Society would naturally seize upon the hundredth anniversary of Fitzgerald’s birthday to indulge in an ecstasy of hero-worship. But that is no reason in the world why we should all join in celebrating this particular annivers­ary, following what we believe is a momentary fashion in literary circles.

THE Attorney-General has been exercising himself to discover precedents for the interference by the Law Officer of the Crown on the application for prohibition against Sir Lewis Dibdin in the case of Canon Thompson [100 Years Ago, 1 August 2008]. . . It is unusual, nay unconstitutional, for the Promoter in an ecclesiastical case to be sup­ported by the taxpayers’ money. However, there is an illustrious precedent which we can commend to the Attorney’s notice. The English Government in the fifteenth century paid all the expenses of the Promoter in connexion with the ecclesiastical proceedings that resulted in the burning of Joan of Arc.

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