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THE SENIOR WRANGLER
BRITISH WEEKLINESS I do not deny that culture may exist outside the British weekly magazines, but I do maintain that nowhere outside their pages is culture so splendidly certain of itself. Take, for example, the matter of classical quotation. In our rude country, if a man has a bit of Latin left in him, it is wisest to keep it to himself, even though he burst with the guilty secret. It is not so in England. He can have it printed in a British weekly magazine. Any little keepsake from the ruins of a college education may there be displayed with joy and pride.
Mr. Asquith's announcement on November i that the late Campbell-Bannerman had, at a cabinet meeting in 1892, been the only one to quote correctly a certain line from Juvenal moved a large number of cultivated persons. Gentlemen who had a scrap of Juvenal about them produced it at once. Gentlemen who had nothing of Juvenal produced a scrap of something else. Gentlemen with only a stray bit from the back part of the dictionary came forward with their little all. And they are still at it, though several months have slipped away, for I see in the very last issue of the London“Hortator” that some one in the West Riding of Yorkshire is being reminded of a line in Vergil, though unable to explain why.
In view of the flippancy of American journalism, I feel it my duty to reproduce the spirit of this discussion, though I may not recall with complete accuracy the details. It began, I think, in the pages of the London “Bombardinian” with a letter from Sir Horton Bumpstead-Digg, who trusted it would not be out of place to remark here that several other lines of Juvenal were often misquoted. There was, for example, the glaring instance of pueris for puero. He had encountered this lamentable and vulgar error in quarters where one would least expect it. Then followed the Hon. G. HitcherlingBottomley in the London "Weekly Palladium,” who, while not desiring to animadvert upon the scholarship of Sir Horton Bumpstead-Digg, for whom personally he had the highest esteem, felt constrained to disagree with him as to the source of the quotation. The signs all pointed, said he, not to the tenth satire, but to the sixth. Lines from the sixth satire, by the way, were shockingly misquoted. It seemed to him highly significant in this day of feminist agitation, with the subject of woman so much to the fore, that so few people could quote correctly Juvenal's famous tribute to early woman
Sed potanda ferens infantibus ubera magnis
Et saepe horridior glandem ructante maritolines so beautifully remembered in Wordsworth's familiar words
A perfect woman, nobly planned, to warn, to comfort, and command. Meanwhile it had leaked out that the line quoted by Sir Campbell-Bannerman was a phrase almost as common as e pluribus unum, and that he had merely given the reading of one edition, and the rest of the cabinet of another, and that everybody was right, and nobody at all remarkable. But the writing of letters went straight on-letters from Classicus, Senex, Auditor Tantum, M.A. Oxon. and Verbum Sat, and others.
Now, with the ins and outs of these deep matters I am not concerned, for in the decay of my Latin they are quite beyond me. That the affair has restored the confidence of well-bred Britons in their ruling class, whose prestige was shattered some months since, when the first lord of the admiralty accented Pyramus on the penult. I am concerned only with the manner of the participants. It is a mistake to suppose that these superb beings had any interest in the subject itself. Indeed, their Latin quotations usually applied to some quite different subject. It was, in fact, not a discussion at all. It was a demonstration in gentility. That is why I, as an American, was so much impressed.
If there is to be found on this side of the ocean any such amount of classical information, it can never be imparted in quite this way. In America we have nothing in point of dignity to compare with the Englishmen who quote Latin in the British weeklies, except perhaps a few colored persons in high hats.
The minister had just finished his great sermon; the air still quivered with his burning words, and the people sat erect, disturbed, embarrassed; yet he lingered a moment in his place.
"Is there one here," he asked, "in whose breast these words strike like a barbed arrow for the truth that is in them?” And he sat down.
"That was hard on John!" said old James; "but he deserves it, every word.”
"A blow from the shoulder for James !” said old John. “Time he got one, too, if it is n’t too late.” “I wonder whether either of those two old sinners will take his medicine and be the better
for it!” said old William. But
bed, and cried out in
AN INDIAN MUTINY “Mother, you know the way me an' Johnny Smith play I 'm Indians an' he's soldiers ?” “Yes, dear; what of it?" "Well, if I don't let him lick me every time we play, he says I are n't patriotic.”