Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/186

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176
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

men who are distilled into the House of Commons, and then redistilled into the Ministry, we are again disappointed. Just as, in the last generation, royal speeches, drawn up by those so laboriously trained in the right uses of words, furnished for an English grammar examples of blunders to be avoided; so, in the present generation, a work on style might fitly take, from these documents which our government annually lays before all the world, warning instances of confusions, and illogicalities, and pleonasms. And then on looking at the performances of men not thus elaborately prepared, we are still more struck by the seeming anomaly. How great the anomaly is, we may best see by supposing some of our undisciplined authors to use expressions like those used by the disciplined. Imagine the self-made Cobbett deliberately saying, as is said in the last royal speech, that—

"I have kept in view the double object of an equitable regard to existing circumstances, and of securing a general provision more permanent in its character, and resting on a reciprocal and equal basis, for the commercial and maritime transactions of the two countries."[1]

Imagine the poet, who had "little Latin and less Greek," directing that—

"No such address shall be delivered in any place where the assemblage of persons to hear the same may cause obstruction to the use of any road or walk by the public."[2]

—a passage which occurs, along with half a dozen laxities and superfluities, in the eighteen lines announcing the ministerial retreat from the Hyde Park contest. Imagine the ploughman Burns, like one of our scholars who has been chosen to direct the education of gentlemen's sons, expressing himself in print thus:

"I should not have troubled you with this detail (which was, indeed, needless in my former letter) if it was not that I may appear to have laid a stress upon the dates which the boy's accident had prevented me from being able to claim to do."[3]

Imagine Bunyan the tinker publishing such a sentence as this, written by one of our bishops:

"If the 546 gentlemen who signed the protest on the subject of deaconesses had thought proper to object to my having formally licensed a deaconess in the parish of Dilton's Marsh, or to what they speak of when they say that 'recognition had been made' (I presume on a report of which no part or portion was adopted by resolution of the Synod) 'as to sisters living together in a more conventual manner and under stricter rule,' I should not have thought it necessary to do more than receive with silent respect the expression of their opinion," etc., etc.[4]

Or, to cite for comparison modern self-educated writers, imagine such a sentence coming from Alexander Smith, or Gerald Massey, or the

  1. Daily papers, February 7, 1873.
  2. Times and Post, February 11, 1873.
  3. Times, November 25, 1872.
  4. Times, November 27, 1872.