14 JUNE 1902, Page 16



Sin—In his "Facts and Comments" Mr. Herbert Spencer has a brief article headed "A Few Americanisms," in which he protests, and very justly so, against the use of certain "new words or new uses of old words." Various examples are given, and the article winds up with the following remark :— " Perhaps a little might be done if in return for criticisms on Americanisms like those passed above, Americans were systematically to expose deteriorations in the language as spoken here. They might, for example, mercilessly ridicule that vulgar misuse of the word awfully,' which has now continued for more than a generation." This reminds me of the following rather good story told to me by a friend now deceased. A certain distinguished philoso- pher happened to be staying at a country house in which my friend was also a guest, and one morning a youngster looking out of the window, observing a large flock of rooks alighting on the grass, cried out: "What an awful lot of crows," upon which the philosopher, in a tone intending to con- vey a gentle rebuke, inquiringly said : "Well, myyoung friend, are crows really so very awful P" The boy quickly answered: " I didn't say, What a lot of awful crows,' but What an awful lot of crows !' " The philosopher remained silent, and the boy whispered to my friend: "Had him that time, I think, 6ir ! " This is a true story.—I am, Sir, Scc., P. W.