Grammar is the etiquette of words, and the man who does not know how to properly salute his grandmother on the street until he has consulted a book, is always so troubled about the tenses that his fancies break thru language and escape.
The grammarian is one whose whole thought is to string words according to a set formula. The substance itself that he wishes to convey is of secondary importance. Orators who keep their thoughts upon the proper way to gesticulate in curves, impress nobody.
If it were a sin against decency, or an attempt to poison the minds of the people, for a person to be ungrammatical, it might be wise enough to hire men to protect the well of English from defilement. But a stationary language is a dead one—moving water only is pure—and the well that is not fed by springs is sure to be a breeding-place for disease.
Let men express themselves in their own way, and if they express themselves poorly, look you, their punishment will be that no one will read their literary effusions. Oblivion with her smother-blanket lies in wait for the writer who has nothing to say and says it faultlessly.
In the making of hare soup, I am informed by most excellent culinary authority, the first requisite is to catch your hare. The literary scullion who has anything to offer a hungry world, will doubtless find a way to fricassee it.
The Best Religion
A religion of just being kind would be a pretty good religion, don’t you think so?
But a religion of kindness and useful effort is nearly a perfect religion.
We used to think it was a man’s belief concerning a dogma that would fix his place in eternity. This was because we believed that God was a grumpy, grouchy old gentleman, stupid, touchy and dictatorial. A really good man would not damn you even if you didn’t like him, but a bad man would.
As our ideas of God changed, we ourselves changed for the better. Or, as we thought better of ourselves we thought better of God. It will be character that locates our place in another world, if there is one, just as it is our character that fixes our place here.
We are weaving character every day, and the way to weave the best character is to be kind and to be useful.
Think right, act right; it is what we think and do that make us what we are.
So here ends love, life and work, being a book of Essays selected from the writings of Elbert Hubbard, and done into print by The Roycrofters at their Shop at East Aurora, which is in Erie County, New York, U.S.A. Completed in the month of July, MCMVI
[Illustration: The Roycroft Shop]