S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
When a Reviewer or other Writer has crammed himself to choking with some particular abstruse piece of information, why does he introduce it with the casual remark, that every school-boy knows it? He didnt know it himself last week; why is it indispensable that he should let off this introductory cracker among his readers? We have a vast number of extraordinary fictions in common use, but this fiction of the school-boy is the most unaccountable to me of all. It supposes the school-boy to know everything. The school-boy knows the exact distance, to an inch, from the moon to Uranus. The school-boy knows every conceivable quotation from the Greek and Latin authors. The school-boy is up at present, and has been these two years, in the remotest corners of the maps of Russia and Turkey; previously to which display of his geographical accomplishments he had been on the most intimate terms with the whole of the gold regions of Australia. If there were a run against the monetary system of the country to-morrow, we should find this prodigy of a school-boy dawn upon us with the deepest mysteries of banking and the currency. We have nearly got rid of the Irishman who stood by us so long, and did so much public service, by enabling the narrators of facetious anecdotes to introduce them with As the Irishman said. We have quite got rid of the Frenchman who was for many years in partnership with him. Are we never, on any terms, to get rid of the school-boy?