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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 101, December 12, 1891   By:

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PUNCH,

OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.

VOL. 101.

December 12, 1891.

LETTERS TO ABSTRACTIONS.

NO. VIII. TO LAZINESS.

BEST (AND BEST ABUSED) OF ABSTRACTIONS,

My heart positively warms to you as I write. At this precise moment I can think of a hundred different things that I ought to be doing. For instance, I have not written to TOM, who is in the wilds of Canada, for months. His last letter ended with a pathetic appeal for an answer.

"Never mind, old chap," he said, "about not having any news. Little details that you may think too insignificant to relate are bound to interest me in this deserted spot. I am sure you occasionally meet I some of our friends of the old days. Tell them I often think of them and all the fun we used to have together. It all seems like a dream to me now. Let me know what any of them are doing. I heard six months ago from a fellow who was touring out here that JACK BUMPUS was married. If it is really our old JACK, congratulate him, and give him my love. I don't know his present address. But, whatever you do, write. A letter from you is like water in the desert."

[Illustration]

When I read that letter I became full of the noblest resolutions. Not another day should pass, I vowed, before I answered it. So I prepared a great many sheets of thin note paper, carefully selected a clean nib and sat down at my writing table to begin. As I did so my eyes fell upon Martin Chuzzlewit , which was lying within easy reach. The book seemed positively to command me to read it for the tenth time. I took it up, and in another moment Mrs. Gamp had taken possession of me. My writing chair was uncomfortable. I transferred myself into an arm chair. Is it necessary to add that I did not write to TOM? His letter is getting frayed and soiled from being constantly in my pocket. Day after day it accompanies me on my daily round, unanswered and seemingly unanswerable. For I feel it to be a duty to write, and my mind abhors a duty. The letter weighs upon my conscience like lead. A few strokes of the pen would remove the burden, but I simply cannot screw myself up to the task. That is one of the things I ought to do.

Again, ought I not to call on the WHITTLESEAS? Mr. and Mrs. WHITTLESEA have simply overflowed with kindness towards me. I never enjoyed anything more than the week I spent at their house in Kent a short time ago. They are now in town, and, what is more, they know that I am in town too. Of course I ought to call. It's my plain duty, and that is, as far as I can tell, the only reason which absolutely prevents me from calling upon that hospitable family. Why need I go through the long list of my pressing duties? I ought to write my article on "Modern Theosophy: A Psychological Parallel," for the next number of The Brain . I ought to visit my dentist; I ought to have my hair cut. But I shall do none of these things. On the other hand, it is absolutely unnecessary that I should write to you. No evil would befall me if I waited another year, or even omitted altogether to write to you. And that is the precise reason why I am now addressing you. As a matter of fact, I like you. As I have already said, the performance of strict duties is irksome to me. It is you, my dear LAZINESS, who forbid me to perform them, and thus save me from many an uncongenial task. That is why I like you.

And, after all, the common abuse of you is absurd. I have heard grave and industrious persons declare emphatically that any one who allows himself to fall under your sway debars himself utterly from every chance of success. Fiddlesticks! I snap my fingers at such folly. What do these gentlemen say to the case of FIGTREE, the great Q.C.? Everybody knows that FIGTREE is, without exception, the most indolent man in the world. Let any doubter walk down Middle Temple Lane and ask the first young barrister he meets what he thinks of FIGTREE. I am ready to wager my annual income that the reply will be, "What, Old FIGTREE! Why, he's the laziest man at the Bar... Continue reading book >>


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