Page:Notes by the Way.djvu/32

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Chairman of first Readers' Dinner.Knight had always highly appreciated, as all engaged in literature must, the services rendered by the proof-reader, and on the 11th of April, 1891, he took the chair at the dinner held to celebrate the foundation of the first Readers' Pension. Since then he had watched with great interest the work of the Readers' Pensions Committee, of which Lord Glenesk was President until his lamented death on November 24th, 1908. Four pensions have been founded, at a cost of just over two thousand pounds, and placed in the charge of the Printers' Pension Corporation. At the dinner in 1899, at which the Hon. W. F. Danvers Smith presided, it was resolved to establish, in addition, a pension specially for members of the Association of Correctors of the Press, and the third of these pensions has just been completed, the first recipient being Mr. Carbery, who was for more than forty years a reader on The Daily News.


To The Athenæum, in addition to criticisms of performances, Knight contributed reviews of books on the drama, and of others on subjects concerning which he had special knowledge. He occupied so prominent a position as a dramatic critic that his vast learning and his love for other studies are apt to be overlooked. I therefore make the following lengthy extract from a review which appeared on the 22nd of March, 1902, on a subject for which he had a great affection, that of philology. Knight in the French Academy's Dictionary.The occasion for it was the facsimile reprint of the famous 'Dictionnaire de l'Académie Françoise,' Paris, 1694:—

"No effort to supply the philological derivation of words was made in this first edition or in many after it, a subject for no special regret, considering that for much more than a century and a half after its appearance philological knowledge was in its infancy. No attempt at historical treatment is exhibited, and, a point more to be deplored, no illustrations of use are quoted, except from current speech. Those who hope from the first edition to reap such definitions, cynical, humorous, or prejudiced, as abound in the first edition of Johnson, and render its possession enviable when its authority has disappeared, will be disappointed. Everything is as decorous as it can be. Coarseness of speech is rarely to be found. There is no proof of the existence of that esprit gaulois which it was the joy of the nineteenth century to revive. All is in fact academic, respectable, and worthy of that roi soleil now old, persecuting, and sadly shorn of his beams to whom, in language of supreme adulation, the book is dedicated. . . .

"With all its faults and shortcomings on its head, the 'Dictionnaire de l'Academie Françoise' is what Prof. Dupont, of the