Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/115

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103
MATTHEW ARNOLD

sight of the dogged British Philistine became to him a perpetual grievance. The middle-class, as he said in one of his favourite formulæ,[1] has a ‘defective type of religion, a narrow range of intellect and knowledge, a stinted sense of beauty, and a low type of manners.’ Accordingly, the function which he took for himself was to be a thorn in the side of the Philistine: to pierce the animal's thick hide with taunts, delicate but barbed; to invent nicknames which might reveal to the creature his own absurdity; to fasten upon expressions characteristic of the blatant arrogance and complacent ineffable self-conceit of the vulgar John Bull, and repeat them till even Bull might be induced to blush. Somebody's unlucky statement that the English was the best breed in the world; the motto about the 'dissidence of dissent and the Protestantism of the Protestant religion '; the notice of Wragg–– the woman who was taken up for child-murder; the assertion of The Saturday Review that we were the most logical people in the world; the roarings of the 'young lions of The Daily Telegraph,' and their like, which covered our impotence in European wars; the truss-manufactory which ornamented the finest

  1. Mixed Essays, p. 167.