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The Fitz-Boodle Papers   By: (1811-1863)

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By William Makepeace Thackeray








First Profession

Second Profession




OMNIUM CLUB, May 20, 1842.

DEAR SIR, I have always been considered the third best whist player in Europe, and (though never betting more than five pounds) have for many years past added considerably to my yearly income by my skill in the game, until the commencement of the present season, when a French gentleman, Monsieur Lalouette, was admitted to the club where I usually play. His skill and reputation were so great, that no men of the club were inclined to play against us two of a side; and the consequence has been, that we have been in a manner pitted against one another. By a strange turn of luck (for I cannot admit the idea of his superiority), Fortune, since the Frenchman's arrival, has been almost constantly against me, and I have lost two and thirty nights in the course of a couple of score of nights' play.

The "Fitz Boodle Papers" first appeared in Fraser's Magazine for the year 1842.

Everybody knows that I am a poor man; and so much has Lalouette's luck drained my finances, that only last week I was obliged to give him that famous gray cob on which you have seen me riding in the Park (I can't afford a thoroughbred, and hate a cocktail), I was, I say, forced to give him up my cob in exchange for four ponies which I owed him. Thus, as I never walk, being a heavy man whom nobody cares to mount, my time hangs heavily on my hands; and, as I hate home, or that apology for it a bachelor's lodgings and as I have nothing earthly to do now until I can afford to purchase another horse, I spend my time in sauntering from one club to another, passing many rather listless hours in them before the men come in.

You will say, Why not take to backgammon, or ecarte, or amuse yourself with a book? Sir (putting out of the question the fact that I do not play upon credit), I make a point never to play before candles are lighted; and as for books, I must candidly confess to you I am not a reading man.

'Twas but the other day that some one recommended me to your Magazine after dinner, saying it contained an exceedingly witty article upon I forget what. I give you my honor, sir, that I took up the work at six, meaning to amuse myself till seven, when Lord Trumpington's dinner was to come off, and egad! in two minutes I fell asleep, and never woke till midnight. Nobody ever thought of looking for me in the library, where nobody ever goes; and so ravenously hungry was I, that I was obliged to walk off to Crockford's for supper.

What is it that makes you literary persons so stupid? I have met various individuals in society who I was told were writers of books, and that sort of thing, and expecting rather to be amused by their conversation, have invariably found them dull to a degree, and as for information, without a particle of it. Sir, I actually asked one of these fellows, "What was the nick to seven?" and he stared in my face and said he didn't know. He was hugely over dressed in satin, rings, chains and so forth; and at the beginning of dinner was disposed to be rather talkative and pert; but my little sally silenced HIM, I promise you, and got up a good laugh at his expense too. "Leave George alone," said little Lord Cinqbars, "I warrant he'll be a match for any of you literary fellows." Cinqbars is no great wiseacre; but, indeed, it requires no great wiseacre to know THAT.

What is the simple deduction to be drawn from this truth? Why, this that a man to be amusing and well informed, has no need of books at all, and had much better go to the world and to men for his knowledge. There was Ulysses, now, the Greek fellow engaged in the Trojan war, as I dare say you know; well, he was the cleverest man possible, and how? From having seen men and cities, their manners noted and their realms surveyed, to be sure... Continue reading book >>

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