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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 103, November 26, 1892   By:

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VOL. 103.

November 26, 1892.



A Philosopher has deigned to address to me a letter. "Sir," writes my venerable correspondent, "I have been reading your open letters to Abstractions with some interest. You will, however, perhaps permit me to observe that amongst those to whom you have written are not a few who have no right whatever to be numbered amongst Abstractions. Laziness, for instance, and Crookedness, and Irritation not to mention others how is it possible to say that these are Abstractions? They are concrete qualities and nothing else. Forgive me for making this correction, and believe me yours, &c. A PLATONIST." To which I merely reply, with all possible respect, "Stuff and nonsense!" I know my letters have reached those to whom they were addressed, no single one has come back through the Dead letter Office, and that is enough for me. Besides, there are thousands of Abstractions that the mind of "A PLATONIST" has never conceived. Somewhere I know, there is an abstract Boot, a perfect and ideal combination of all the qualities that ever were or will be connected with boots, a grand exemplar to which all material boots, more or less, nearly approach; and by their likeness to which they are recognised as boots by all who in a previous existence have seen the ideal Boot. Sandals, mocassins, butcher boots, jack boots, these are but emanations from the great original. Similarly, there must be an abstract Dog, to the likeness of which, in one respect or another, both the Yorkshire Terrier and the St. Bernard conform. So much then for "A PLATONIST." And now to the matter in hand.


My dear FAILURE, there exists amongst us, as, indeed, there has always existed, an innumerable body of those upon whom you have cast your melancholy blight. Amongst their friends and acquaintances they are known by the name you yourself bear. They are the great army of failures. But there must be no mistake. Because a man has had high aspirations, has tried with all the energy of his body and soul to realise them, and has, in the end, fallen short of his exalted aim, he is not, therefore, to be called a failure. MOSES, I may remind you, was suffered only to look upon the Promised Land from a mountain top. Patriots without number KOSSUTH shall be my example have fought and bled, and have been thrust into exile, only to see their objects gained by others in the end. But the final triumph was theirs surely almost as much as if they themselves had gained it. On the other hand there are those who march from disappointment to disappointment, but remain serenely unconscious of it all the time. These are not genuine failures. There is CHARSLEY, for instance, journalist, dramatist, novelist Heaven knows what besides. His plays have run, on an average, about six nights; his books, published mostly at his own expense, are a drug in the market; but the little creature is as vain, as proud, and, it must be added, as contented, as though Fame had set him, with a blast of her golden trumpet, amongst the mighty Immortals. What lot can be happier than his? Secure in his impregnable egotism, ramparted about with mighty walls of conceit, he bids defiance to attack, and lives an enviable life of self centred pleasure.

Then, again, there was JOHNNIE TRUEBRIDGE. I do not mean to liken him to CHARSLEY, for no more unselfish and kind hearted being than JOHNNIE ever breathed. But was there ever a stone that rolled more constantly and gathered less moss? Yet no stroke could subdue his inconquerable cheerfulness. Time after time he got his head above the waters; time after time, some malignant emissary of fate sent him bubbling and gasping down into the depths. He was up again in a moment, striving, battling, buffeting. Nothing could make JOHNNIE despair, no disappointment could warp the simple straightforward sincerity, the loyal and almost childlike honesty of his nature... Continue reading book >>

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