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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 101, July 18, 1891   By:

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PUNCH,

OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.

VOL. 101.

July 18, 1891.

LETTERS TO ABSTRACTIONS.

NO. II. TO SOCIAL AMBITION.

DEAR SIR, OR MADAM,

I had not intended to annoy you with another letter. But since I addressed you last week I have received one or two communications not from you, bien entendu , for you are too wary to dispute the accuracy of what I have written; but from concrete human beings, who pretend to speak on your behalf, and deny that I have "proved my case." I might answer by saying that I never set out to prove a case that I wished merely to enjoy a friendly chat with you, and to appeal to your clemency on behalf of the large class whom I ventured to represent by the DABCHICKS. "But," says one of my detractors, in a letter now lying before me, "you have only given one instance. You have talked grandly about Queens, and Dukes, and actresses, and, in the end, you have put us off with a wretched story about the parvenu DABCHICK. For my part, I refuse to admit your authority until you prove, in greater detail, that you really know something of the subject on which you presumed to write." "Sir," I reply, "you are brusque, and somewhat offensive in the style you use towards me. For my part I do not admit that you are entitled to an answer from me, and I have felt disposed to pass you by in silence. But since there may be other weak vessels of your sort, I will do violence to myself, and pen another letter." And thus, my dear SOCIAL AMBITION, I once more take the liberty of addressing you, not without an inward tremor lest you should pounce upon me unawares, and cause me to expiate my rashness by driving me from the calm seclusion in which I spend my days, to mingle with the feverish throng who wrangle for place and precedence, myself the most feverish wrangler of them all. But, on the principle that we are both, in some sort, hawks, I think I may trust you to spare my eyes, while I remind you of one or two incidents in which you bore a part.

And first BLENKINSOP knocks at the door of my memory. I bid him enter, and I see a tall slim youth, not ill favoured, wearing well cut clothes, and carrying a most beautiful, gold topped Malacca cane delicately in his hand. He is smoking a cigar, and complains to me that his life is a succession of aimless days, and that he cannot find any employment to turn his hand to. That very night, I remember, he dined with me. We went to the play together, and afterwards looked in at Lady ALICIA PARBOIL's dance. Dear Lady ALICIA, how plump she was, and how good natured, and how well she married her fiddle headed daughters. Her husband too, that clumsy, heavy witted oaf, how cunningly and how successfully withal she schemed for his advancement. Quid plura? you knew her well, she was devoted to you. I only speak of her to remind you that it was in her hospitable rooms that GERVASE BLENKINSOP met you and his fate. He had danced for the second time that evening with ELVIRA PARBOIL, and, having returned that blushing virgin to her accustomed corner, was just about to depart when the ample form of Lady ALICIA bore down upon him: "Oh, Mr. BLENKINSOP," her Ladyship began, "I really cannot allow you to go before I introduce you to Mr. WILBRAHAM. I hear," she continued, "he has just lost his Private Secretary, and who knows but that " Here she paused, and archly tapping her protégé's cheek with her fan, she bore him off to introduce him to the Cabinet Minister. I watched the ceremony. Something whispered to me that BLENKINSOP was lost. Must I go through the whole painful story? He became Private Secretary to his new Right Honourable friend, and from that moment he was a changed man. His cheery good nature vanished. Instead of it he cultivated an air of pompous importance. One by one he weeded out his useless friends, and attached to himself dull but potentially useful big wigs who possessed titles and influence. At one of our last speaking interviews (we only nod distantly now when we meet), he hinted that in the next distribution of honours his name might be expected... Continue reading book >>


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