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and tiresome. No doubt their view was that all this explanation softened the refusal of the invitation to dinner, or whatever it was, but the truth is that simplicity in these matters is as much more gracious as happily — though the fact is by no means universally acted upon — it is also more convenient.

Another form of apology with which we would wage war is any in which the apologizer assures his friend he had no intention of giving offence. Has he ever such an intention? The excuse had some meaning in former days; it was allowable to tell a man the speaker had no intention of offending him when the offence was the first step towards shooting him, and as a synonym for not wishing that result, we should permit it still. But it wants pistols and seconds in the background to give it any meaning whatever. Men only mean to offend each other when they would, in former days, have been ready to kill each other. They are offensive from inconsiderateness, from selfishness, from stupidity, from want of imagination, not once in a thousand times from intending to be so. What people often mean, however, by saying that they meant no offence was that they meant well. It is a very different thing to mean not to be offensive, and not to mean to be offensive, and we would by no means suppress the statement of the first, but we would never allow any one to think that the mere absence of an intention to give pain or annoyance ought to be mentioned as bearing on the fact that the thing has been done. The question is whether this uneasy feeling is reasonable; that there was no intention to produce it proves nothing, one way or another, and may almost always be taken for granted.

We have preached a curious sermon on the duty of making apologies, we may be told, consisting almost entirely of an attack, made with all the force at our disposal, on the apologetic habit of mind, or perhaps we should rather say, the apologetic habit of words. But this is eminently a case for homœopathic treatment. We oppose the habit of making apologies, because we want an apology to have some meaning. It should be like a wedding present, something the giver does not look to repeat in a lifetime. When it has become a habit, it must always sink into that most unsatisfactory substitute for the real article, a mere statement of the offence, — a repetition in words of the thing that has annoyed us in fact. We have seen it urged upon indiscreetly charitable persons (and it has struck us as one of the most I practicable of reforms), that they should never allow themselves to give trifling sums. No doubt they had better give a trifling sum than a large one to an undeserving petitioner, but they are so much more likely to think twice if the gift is a sovereign than if it is a halfpenny, that even the danger of enriching an impostor is a less evil than the stimulus to caution is a gain. This is the reform we would make in apologies. We want to get rid of all these halfpennyworths that are bestowed so readily, and let the giver dispose of what costs him something. We want to stop this dribbling-away of meaningless excuse where there is nothing to excuse, and store up the wasted material for some of those occasions, not wholly wanting to the life of the gentlest and most courteous, when the grace of intercourse has been hurt by temper, or indiscretion, or indolence, and a word in season would right it, and perhaps make it better than, before.

From The Spectator.


We English are not beloved in Norway. The grievances of the people against us are that we have spoiled their pleasant, simple, happy country, destroyed their game, corrupted their ideals, sophisticated their manners, raised their prices; finally, that we think a great deal too much of ourselves, and treat the natives of that grand Northland, whose heroic pirates and robbers gave our forbears, a thousand years before steam-launches and salmon-fishing, such severe drubbings, with the insular insolence which also arouses comments in other parts of the globe. The Norsk people — that is to say, all those who have not rivers to let, or furs to sell, or "stations" to keep, and who do not live by hiring out carrioles and ponies to the incomprehensible people who are always waiting to see the midnight sun, and to behold reindeer in the act of scraping their food from under the snow — wish we would keep away, and let Gamle Norge be really Old Norway, instead of another big piece of playground for the autumn excursionist from that island out of which the raven formerly got such solid and unctuous pickings. They like us better in Sweden, but Sweden means Stockholm, and the lovely little red and green city of boats and bridges is a good deal Frenchified, its staunch Protestantism notwithstanding, in all the respects that strangers are likely to