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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 101, November 14, 1891   By:

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PUNCH, OR THE LONDON CHARIVARI.

VOL. 101.

November 14th, 1891.

LETTERS TO ABSTRACTIONS.

No. VI. TO VANITY.

DEAR VANITY,

I think I can see you smirking and posturing before the abstract mirror, which is your constant companion. It pleases you, no doubt, to think that anybody should pay you the compliment of making you the object and the subject of a whole letter. Perhaps when you have read it to the end you will alter your mood, since it cannot please you to listen to the truth about yourself. None of those whom you infect here below ever did like it. Sometimes, to be sure, it had to be endured with many grimaces, but it was extraordinary to note how the clouds caused by the aggravated truth teller passed away as soon as his departure had enabled the object of these reproaches to recover his or her false self again. What boots it, after all, to tell the truth? For those whom you protect are clad in armour, which is proof against the sharpest lance, and they can thus bid defiance to all the clumsy attacks of the merely honest and downright for a time; but in the end their punishment comes, not always in the manner that their friends predict, but none the less inevitable in one manner or another. For they all fashion a ridiculous monster out of affectations, strivings and falsehoods, and label it "Myself;" and in the end the monster takes breath, and lives and crushes his despised maker, and immediately vanishes into space.

Permit me to proceed in my usual way, and to offer you an example or two. And I begin with HERMIONE MAYBLOOM. HERMIONE was one of a large family of delightful daughters. Their father was the well known Dr. MAYBLOOM, who was Dean of Archester Cathedral. His massive and convincing volumes on The Fauna and Flora of the Mosaic Books in their Relation to Modern Botanical Investigation , must be within your recollection. It was followed, you remember, by The Dean's Duty , which, being published at a time when there was, so to speak, a boom in religious novels, was ordered by many readers under the impression that it was likely to upset their mature religious convictions by its assaults on orthodoxy. Their disappointment when two stout tomes, dealing historically with the status and duties of Deans, were delivered to them, was the theme of cheerful comment amongst the light hearted members of the Dean's own family.

[Illustration]

Was there ever in this world so delightful a family circle as that of the Deanery? The daughters were all pretty, but that was their smallest merit. They were all clever, and well read, without a tinge of the bluestocking, and most of them were musical to the tips of their slender fingers. How merrily their laughter used to ring across the ancient close, and how playfully and gently they used to rally the dear learned old Dean who had watched over them and cared for them since Mrs. MAYBLOOM'S death, many years before, with all the tender care of the most devoted mother. And of this fair and smiling throng, "my only rosary," as the Dean used to call them, HERMIONE was, I think, the prettiest, as she was certainly the most accomplished. Every kind of gift had been showered upon her by Nature. When she played her violin, accompanied by her elder sister on the piano, tears trickled unbidden down the aquiline nose of the militant Bishop of Archester, the chapter stood hushed to a man, and the surrounding curates were only prevented by a salutary fear of ruining their chances of preferment from laying themselves, their pittances, and their garnered store of slippers at her pretty feet. Then in a fit of charming petulance, she would break off in the middle of the piece, lay down her violin, and, with a pretty imperiousness, command a younger sister to fetch her zither, on which to complete the subjugation of her adorers. And then her caricatures summer lightning flashes of pencilled wit, as I heard the Reverend SIMEON COPE describe them in a moment of enthusiasm after she had shown us her sketch of his rival, the Reverend STEPHEN HANKINSON... Continue reading book >>


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