General Grant

By Matthew Arnold; John Y. Simon | Go to book overview

A Rejoinder by Mark Twain

Speech at the Annual Reunion of the Army and Navy Club
of Connecticut, April 27, 1887

I WILL DETAIN you with only just a few words—just a few thousand words; and then give place to a better man—if he has been created. Lately a great and honored author. Matthew Arnold, has been finding fault with General Grant's English. That would be fair enough, may be, if the examples of imperfect English averaged more instances to the page in General Grant's book than they do in Mr. Arnold's criticism upon the book—but they don't. [Laughter and applause.] It would be fair enough, may be, if such instances were commoner in General Grant's book than they are in the works of the average standard author—but they aren't. In truth, General Grant's derelictions in the matter of grammar and construction are not more frequent than are such derelictions in the works of a majority of the professional authors of our time and of all previous times—authors as exclusively and pains-takingly trained to the literary trade as was General Grant to the trade of war. [Applause.] This is not a random statement: it is a fact, and easily demonstrable. I have at home a book called "Modern English Literature, its Blemishes and Defects," by Henry H. Breen, F. S. A., a countryman of Mr. Arnold. In it I find examples of bad grammar and slovenly English from the pens of Sydney Smith, Sheridan, Hallam, Whately, Carlyle, both Disraelis, Allison, Junius, Blair, Macaulay, Shakespeare, Milton, Gibbon, Southey, Bulwer, Cobbett, Dr. Samuel Johnson, Trench, Lamb, Landor, Smollett, Walpole, Walker (of the dictionary), Christopher North, Kirke

-55-

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General Grant
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • General Grant *
  • Contents *
  • Preface to the Second Edition vii
  • General Grant by Matthew Arnold *
  • Introduction 3
  • General Grant by Matthew Arnold 11
  • Part I 11
  • Part II 32
  • A Rejoinder by Mark Twain 55
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