Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/133

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121
MATTHEW ARNOLD

feel grateful to a man who, while renouncing all claims to be a philosopher, did more than most philosophers to rouse us to new perception of our needs and was one of the most effective agents in breaking up old crusts of prejudice.

Putting on a mask, sometimes of levity, sometimes of mere literary dandyism, with an irony which sometimes is a little too elaborate, but which often expresses the keenest intelligence trying to pass itself off as simplicity, he was a skirmisher, but a skirmisher who did more than most heavily-armed warriors, against the vast oppressive reign of stupidity and prejudice. He made the old dragon Philistinism (to use his phrase) wince at times, and showed the ugliness and clumsiness of the creature; and after all he did it in a spirit as of one who recognised the monster was after all a most kindly monster at bottom. He may be enlisted in useful service if you can only apply the goad successfully, and made effective, in his ponderous way, like the Carthaginian elephants, if only you can mount his neck and goad him in the right direction. No single arm is sufficient for such a task; the dragon shakes himself and goes to sleep again in a stertorous and rather less complacent fashion, let us hope; and we feel that the