Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/121

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109
MATTHEW ARNOLD

He was, indeed, deliberately in the habit of giving one side of a question without caring to add even the corrections of which he himself approved. That is natural in a man who wishes to stimulate thought, rather than to preach any definite practical conclusion. I only urge that there was a real and very rare merit in such a position taken by a man of so much insight. The effort to see English life and society and thought, as a German professor or a French politician might see it, to get outside of the prejudices which are part of ourselves, is itself a most useful experience. And when such criticism is carried on with a singular fulness of perception, with pungent flashes of sarcasm, but with a power of speaking truths as undeniable as they are unpleasant, and yet with so much true urbanity—in spite of certain little defects, when he seems to be rather forcing himself to be humorous, and becomes liable to an accusation of flippancy—in such a case, I say that we owe the deepest gratitude to our critic. His criticism is anything but final, but it is to be taken into account by every man who believes in the importance of really civilising the coming world. How the huge, all-devouring monster which we call Democracy is to be dealt with: how he is to