My favourite uncompromisingly demanding schoolmaster, Bartle, side-swiping someone who praises their own use of language.

‘The right language!’ said Bartle Massey, contemptuously.  ‘You’re about as near the right language as a pig’s squealing is like a tune played on a key-bugle.’

For other Bartlisms, see ‘gutter thinking’, ‘an empty head for the devil to dance in’, ‘an ounce of knowledge and sixpence of snuff’, and ‘beware the Bartle blade’.

Source: George Eliot, Adam Bede (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985 (1859)), p. 387

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