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but a humiliation, while it must be held to be a singular tribute to the prowess of Mr. McLaren. It is a marvellous fact that a Bill, carefully prepared by the chief legal and political functionary for Scotland, and presumably introduced by the Government because it was held to be of the utmost importance to Scotland, which had done so much to place it in its proud position, should, after passing through the House of Lords, collapse before the opposition of an octogenarian member with one or two worthy associates.
This is all the more deplorable because the Endowed Schools Bill is not only a legislative measure of the highest importance itself, but the only Scottish measure of the Session. It is the offspring, moreover, of pure legislative concern. It has no interests at its back, and no motive save to redress abuses and supply an educational want which all public men of the higher class have long recognised to exist in Scotland, and which successive Governments have definitely acknowledged. If ever legislation deserved the support of all Liberals this did. But, unhappily, like most legislation of this kind, it has powerful interests arrayed against it. Abuses do not give way before the most honest ambition to remove them, and no abuses, in our time at least, live so long as those which mask themselves in a guise of municipal liberality. It has come to be assumed somehow that our municipalities not only represent popular interests, but in all cases popular rights, and that the two are very much identical. There never was greater fallacy. Everyone who knows anything of the working of municipal government knows that it is liable to be controlled at times by the most selfish motives, and to be the tool of unscrupulous factions. The love of power which it engenders is often quite distinct from the popular rights which it professes to represent, and plainly inimical to a true interpretation of those rights. No Church and no hereditary body can defend with more unreasonable tenacity the most obvious wrongs.
That there are grave wrongs connected with Heriot's Hospital, as well as with other institutions of a similar character in Scotland, nobody doubts who is unconcerned, directly or indirectly, in the management of these hospitals. There never were such miserable educational results obtained at such a cost in the world. And it may be added there never was a grosser delusion than to suppose that the poor in any sense are interested in the maintenance of these institutions as they are, and that to apply a portion of their funds to secondary education is to deprive the poor of their rights in connection with them. Of all classes the industrious poor are the most interested in the establishment of a properly graded system of secondary instruction. It would open a door of social advancement for them which is meantime almost entirely closed, and which the social state of Scotland urgently demands.
It is to be hoped, therefore, that if the Endowed Schools for Scotland Bill is meantime postponed, it is only that it may be reintro
duced next Session with a more successful result. The Government now, at least, can be in no doubt of the nature of the opposition which they have to encounter. It is an opposition with which no terms should be kept, because both unreasonable and selfish. While professing to represent popular rights, it is really only an abused authority desperate in its last struggles for life.
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TRUE ARTIST,' said Edmund Burke, 'should put a generous deceit on the spectators, and effect the noblest designs by easy methods.' It is not in the department of the fine arts only that art or artifice is now employed to produce fine effects by easy methods, but it is not always so easy to draw the line between deceits that at least are not ungenerous, and such as Mr. Gladstone had in view when, in one of his Midlothian speeches, he called this an age of shams-sham butter, sham silver, sham glory, and sham statesmanship. It certainly is an age in which a striving after effect by short cuts and easy methods shows itself on every side of our civilisation -in our literature, science, commerce and politics, our books and our shops, in the measures of our statesmen as well as in the advertisements of our dealers, in the style of our writing as well as in the style of our architecture.
Style has been called an index to the man ; it may with more truth be regarded as an index to the age. Phrases and forms of speech that are used by individuals without deliberate thought, and that are on the tongue or the pen because they have been unconsciously picked up by the ear or the eye, may have deep-seated causes in the spirit of an age, and the sort of methods to which its character, aims and dominant ideas dispose it. Many tricks of style in the present age betray a prevailing hankering after cheap and ephemeral effects. One of the methods in vogue is the employment of grand and sensational adjectives and adverbs, such as enormous,' 'tremendous,' terrible,' 'infinite,' and their adverbial forms, often in the oddest collocation, to give force, expressiveness, and emphasis to propositions and remarks beyond their intrinsic worth. A generation ago a shopkeeper might talk of selling off at a tremendous sacrifice; or an uneducated Irishman might describe a wit as terribly funny, a woman as tremendously beautiful, or the number of people at Donnybrook fair as terribly small. But such rhetoric was not admitted into the speech of polite society, still less into literature, and was seen to involve generally an incongruity approaching to a bull. Now not a few writers of eminence, quite capable of writing pure and classical No. 610 (No. CXXX. N. s.)
English, seem to think their language would be ineffective without such expletives, and employ them as freely and often with as little regard to their real significance as the schoolboy of the period does his two favourite words awfully' and 'jolly,' or as the navvy does a highly-coloured adjective formed from the substantive blood.' The author of Coningsby' says of Rigby's slashing articles, that when the writer thought he had made a point it was sure to be in italics, that last resort of Forcible Feebles. The adjectives and adverbs referred to belong to the 'forcible feeble' order. The consequence is that a number of excellent and useful words in their right places have lost their virtue and become insignificant. Enormous' has come to mean only large,' 'terribly' is almost synonymous with very,' and grandiloquence thus baffles itself. Our language is a great possession which has come down to us from our ancestors, and we are like prodigals dissipating the inheritance of their fathers, when, for the sake of finery or immediate effect, we render weak and worthless words that had a distinctive and forcible meaning. The word 'portion,' for instance, has properly a distinctive and distributive sense, as in Benjamin's portion;' but it came to be thought by some writers finer than part,' because bigger and not then so common; now it is regarded as merely synonymous with part,' and has, in a great measure, driven the latter, though a nicer and neater word, out of use. Expect,' again, was a serviceable word, and had a special meaning possessed by no other word in the language; but our kin beyond sea came to think it finer to say 'I expect than I think,' or I dare say,' or 'I suppose,' and we ourselves have copied them so fast during the last four or five years that the word has already lost its proper signification in colloquial use for a great part of the nation, and contracted a sort of vulgarity into the bargain. It seems to be to medical bulletins that we owe the absurd phrase 'progressing favourably' in reference to a sick person of distinction or consequence. Great doctors are too grand, or think royal, noble, or right honourable patients too grand, to talk in the oldfashioned way of them as doing well, or getting better, or going on well. Such phrases as 'progressing favourably' are objectionable, not only as awkward and absurd innovations, but as setting a bad example of grandiloquence. An innovation much affected by members of Parliament, a class who are among the chief corruptors of our noble language, and who seem to possess an unerring instinct' for bad phraseology, is saying 'fail to see,' instead of simply don't see.' When a speaker or writer now says he fails to see' something, he means to be pointed, sarcastic, and effective, the innuendo being that there must be something unreasonable in anything that passes his powers of perception, when the words properly denote simply a failure of perception-often the real state of the case. M. de Tocqueville, deploring the changes in language which he ascribes to democracy, with its incessant movement and love of sensation and show, adds that he would rather see his own language
bristling with Chinese, Tartar, and Huron words than rendered uncertain by the misapplication of French words. M. de Tocqueville attributed to democracy or equality a good deal that may be traced, in great part, to other causes; but a depravation of speech is certainly one of the evils of the age, to be set off against the vast good of the rise of the mass of the people. The hurry after momentary effect of this noisy, feverish and self-advertising age is not, however, attributable to democratic movement alone. Steam, electricity, journalism, commercial competition, making haste after riches, huge capitals, production on a large scale, plutocracy rather than democracy, largely contribute to it. That democracy is compatible with noble simplicity and with steadfast adherence to ancient usage and forms may be seen at Uri and Appenzell.
The use of the word 'perhaps '-'a good word before it was ill sorted to qualify large assertions is another characteristic artifice of modern style. By the easy method of employing this adverb, a writer is enabled to lay down sweeping propositions without committing himself to any positive statement the error of which might be immediately detected and exposed; and to indulge a disposition to dogmatism while maintaining an appearance of moderation, caution and circumspection. He may be as round in his generalisations as Mr. Buckle, without Mr. Buckle's learning, which was wide if not deep, and yet protect himself from confutation, or even criticism, by a 'perhaps.' He may have the smallest smattering of knowledge with respect to a subject, and be wholly unfit to pronounce a judgment on the relative merits of its chief masters, and yet, without show of presumption, proceed to determine their rank. He may allude to Pericles as 'perhaps the greatest statesman of antiquity,' in complete ignorance of the claims alike of Pericles himself and of Julius Cæsar, or to Mr. Herbert Spencer as 'perhaps the first philosopher of the present day,' or Sir Henry Maine as 'perhaps the greatest jurist,' without having read any of the works of those two eminent authors, and even without attaching any definite meaning in his own mind to the term 'philosopher' or 'jurist.' It is enough that the phrase serves the purpose of laying down a proposition that sounds like intimate knowledge, while it does not commit the writer too much, and spares him the trouble of investigation, for which he is disinclined and possibly unfit. Were Mont Blanc described as 'perhaps the highest mountain in Switzerland,' it would be tolerably plain that the person using the expression was not well up in his Swiss mountains, and ought to climb higher before applying the superlative to any of them. When examined, the phrase about Pericles, for instance, comes to no more than saying that perhaps Pericles was the greatest statesman of antiquity, perhaps not,' a statement which would be true of any ancient whatever. One often meets with big generalisations, large maxims, and doctrines qualified in like manner, which, after all, amount simply to nothing. So the word 'certain' is often a cover for the fact that the writer's