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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 101, October 3, 1891   By:

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VOL. 101.

October 3rd, 1891.


No. IX.

SCENE The Burg Terrace at Nuremberg . PODBURY on a bench, grappling with the Epitome of SPENCER.

Podbury ( reading aloud, with comments ). "For really to conceive the infinite divisibility of matter is mentally to follow out the divisions to infinity, and to do this would require infinite time." You're right there , old cock, and, as I haven't got it to spare, I won't trouble you! um um ... "opposite absurdities" "subjective modifications" ... "ultimate scientific ideas, then, are all representative of ideas that cannot be comprehended." I could have told him that. What bally rot this Philosophy is but I suppose I must peg away at it. Didn't she say she was sorry I didn't go in more for cultivating my mind? ( He looks up. ) Jove, here she comes! and yes, there's that beggar CULCHARD with her! I thought he'd how the dickens did he manage to ? I see what he's after thinks he'll cut me out twice over but he shan't this time, if I can help it!

Culchard ( to Miss HYPATIA PRENDERGAST). No, the Modern Spirit is too earnestly intent upon solving the problems of existence to tolerate humour in its literature. Humour has served a certain purpose in its day, but that day is done, and I for one cannot pretend to regret its decay.

Miss H. P. Nor I. In fact, the only humour I ever really appreciated is that of the ancient classics. There has been no true fun since ARISTOPHANES died. At least, I think not.

Podb. ( catching the last sentence ). Oh, I say, come, Miss PRENDERGAST. Have you ever read "The Jumping Frog"?

Miss P. I was under the impression that all frogs jumped. But I never read I ah study .

Podb. ( declining to be crushed ). Well, I call MARK TWAIN funny anyhow. But I'm going in for study now. I am honour bright! I'm swotting up SPENCER look!

[ He exhibits the volume proudly.

Miss P. And are you not enchanted by the logical lucidity of that great thinker?

Podb. Um I should be more enchanted if I ever had the faintest notion what the great thinker was driving at. Look here here's a simple little sentence for you! (Reads.) "Let us therefore bear in mind the following: That of the whole incident force affecting an aggregate, the effective force is that which remains after deducting the non effective, that the temporarily effective and the permanently effective vary inversely, and that the molar and molecular changes wrought by the permanently effective force also vary inversely." ( With pathos. ) And that's only in an Epitome , mind you!

Miss P. Really, Mr. PODBURY, I see nothing particularly incomprehensible in that.

Culch. ( with his superior smile ). My dear PODBURY, you can hardly expect to master the Spencerian phraseology and habit of thought without at least some preliminary mental discipline!

Podb. ( nettled ). Oh but you find him plain sailing enough, I suppose?

Culch. I have certainly not encountered any insuperable difficulties in his works as yet .

Podb. Well, I'll just trouble you to explain this wait a bit. ( Opens volume again. ) Ah, here we are "And these illusive and primordial cognitions, or pseud ideas, are homogeneous entities which may be differentiated objectively or subjectively, according as they are presented as Noumenon or Phenomenon. Or, in other words, they are only cognoscible as a colligation of incongruous coalescences." Now then are you going to tell me you can make head or tail of all that?

Culch. ( perceiving that Miss P. is awaiting his reply in manifest suspense ). It's simple enough, my dear fellow, only I can't expect you to grasp it. It is merely a profound truth stated with masterly precision.

Podb. Oh, is that all, my dear fellow? ( He flings up his heels in an ecstasy. ) I knew I'd have you! Why, I made that up myself as I went along, and if you understand it, it's a jolly sight more than I do! [ He roars with laughter... Continue reading book >>

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