Many years ago, the Kingdom of England was in dire straits. The French were as querulant as ever. The King was feckless and unreliable. The fabric of society was endangered by all manner of rabble and scum, who had no qualms about engaging in criminal activites to enrich themselves, satisfy their perverted appetites, or feed their children.

To discourage these lower beings from continuing in these activities, especially the last mentioned of them (viz: feeding their children) the decision was taken to introduce new punishments. Whereas for many centuries the criminally poor could expect to get away with a light whipping, a few decades of imprisonment or a swift disembowelment in the market square, from now on they would run the risk of being transported. Behind this innocent word lay the practice of placing the miscreants in unsavoury ships and sending them on a one way trip to Australia or America.

Many of those subjected to this practice, unfortunately, survived, made new lives for themselves, and married and/or had children. While those who had been sent to Australia were rapidly reconciled to their fate through the contemplation of the wonders of the local flora and fauna, and the need to avoid distractions to escape certain death through the agency of said fauna, the transportees stranded on the American continent were consumed by a deep rancour and hatred of all things English. This led them in time into a reckless and ultimately doomed experiment in self-government, as they rejected the light benevolent rule of the Mother Country for a fashionable but impractical attempt to rule a sprawling and ever more populous and chaotic country on the basis of a hastily drafted and ambiguous constitution whose principal tenets could be comfortably summarised on the back of a Colonial postage stamp.

After "Independence," the focus of hostilities shifted to the cultural sphere. As the centre of mass (not to be confused in this context with the centre of gravity) of the speakers of the English tongue inexorably shifted westwards, a stream of ever increasing volume of unwelcome innovations and malapropisms sloshed eastwards across the Atlantic, eroding the precision of the stately language of Shakespeare, Edmund Burke, and Adam Smith, and softening the crystalline clarity of its pronunciation.

To add insult to injury, it was decided in what passed for 'scholarly circles' in the bosky wilderness of New England that the spelling of the language should be reformed, subjecting the defenceless reader to such abominations as 'color' and 'honor,' 'theater' and 'canceled.' The inevitable result of this wholly superfluous tampering with a tried and tested system was that the uncultivated minds both of the great unwashed of the large metropoles and of the petty burghers of small town America began to lose any tenuous grip they may once have had on the accepted written form of what they continued, ever more misguidedly, to think of as 'their' language.

And then came the Internet. The walls are fallen, and the Barbarians frolic in the smouldering ruins of our once-great civilisation. They cannot distinguish 'then' and 'than.' They believe that 'whomever' is a word. They read little, and understand less, while that which they read is produced on the whole by yahoos of a comparable degree of illiteracy to their own. Today I read a sentence disfigured by the incomprehensibly perverted spelling 'orafice.' One should like to withdraw to some Ionian temple to Higher Learning, and wander through the peristyles with the Golden Youth of a long-past age. All is decay and ugliness, hope is lost, and there is only one honorable means of escape.

My orchids I leave to Professor Jones, my Bechstein to Mary-Lou. May she continue to play upon it the airs of her native land with the same dedication and vigour with which I paid her so handsomely to dust it.

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