Friday, January 07, 2011

‘The man as killed his-self on principle’

[This shouldn’t be too hard to place, but it can be semi-secret until the next post comes along. It made me laugh today.]

He was a clerk in a government office […] and a wery pleasant gen’lm’n too – one o’ the percise and tidy sort, as puts their feet in little India-rubber fire-buckets ven its vet veather, and never has no other bosom friends but hare-skins; he saved up his money on principle, vore a clean shirt ev’ry day on principle, never spoke to none of his relations on principle, ’fear they shou’d want to borrow money of him; and was altogether, in fact, an uncommon agreeable character. He had his hair cut on principle vunce a fortnight, and contracted for his clothes on the economic principle – three suits a year, send back the old vuns. Being a wery reg’lar gen’lm’n he din’d ev’ry day at the same place, vere it was one and ninepence to cut off the joint; and a wery good one and ninepence worth he used to cut, as the landlord often said, vith the tears a tricklin’ down his face, let alone the vay he used to poke the fire in the vinter time, vich wos a dead loss o’ four-pence ha’penny a day, to say nothin’ at all o’ the aggrawation o’ seein’ him do it. So uncommon grand vith it too! ‘Post arter the next gen’lm’n,’ he sings out ev’ry day ven he comes in. ‘See arter the Times, Thomas; let me look at the Mornin’ Herald, ven it’s out o’ hand; don’t forget to bespeak the Chronicle; and just bring the ’Tizer vill you?’ And then he’d set vith his eyes fixed on the clock, and rush out just a quarter of a minit afore the time to vaylay the boy as wos a comin’ in with the evenin’ paper, vich he’d read vith sich intense interest and persewerence, as vorked the other customers up to the wery confines o’ desperation and insanity, ’specially one i-rascible old gen’lm’n as the vaiter wos alvays obliged to keep a sharp eye on in sich times, ’fear he should be tempted to commit some rash act vith the carving knife. Vell, Sir, here he’d stop, occupyin’ the best place for three hours, and never takin’ nothin’ arter his dinner but sleep, and then he’d go avay to a coffeehouse a few streets off, and have a small pot o’ coffee and four crumpets, arter vich he’d valk home to Kensington and go to bed. One night he wos took very ill; sends for the doctor; doctor comes in a green fly, vith a kind o’ Robinson Crusoe set o’ steps as he could let down ven he got out, and pull up arter him ven he got in, to perwent the necessity o’ the coachman’s gettin’ down, and thereby undeceivin’ the public by lettin’ ’em see that it wos only a livery coat he’d got on, and not the trousers to match. ‘Wot’s the matter?’ says the doctor. ‘Wery ill,’ says the patient. ‘Wot have you been a eatin’ of? says the doctor. ‘Roast weal,’ says the patient. ‘Wot’s the last thing you devoured?’ says the doctor. ‘Crumpets,’ says the patient. ‘That’s it,’ says the doctor. ‘I’ll send you a box of pills directly, and don’t you never take no more o’ them,’ he says. ‘No more o’ wot?’ says the patient – ‘Pills!’ ‘No; crumpets,’ says the doctor. ‘Wy?’ says the patient, starting up in bed; ‘I’ve eat for crumpets ev’ry night for fifteen year on principle.’ ‘Vell, then, you’d better leave ’em off on principle,’ says the doctor. ‘Crumpets is wholesome, Sir,’ says the patient. ‘Crumpets is not wholesome, Sir,’ says the doctor, wery fiercely. ‘But they’re so cheap,’ says the patient, comin’ down a little, ‘and so wery fillin’ at the price.’ ‘They’d be dear to you at any price; dear if you wos paid to eat ’em,’ says the doctor. ‘Four crumpets a night,’ he says,’vill do your bisness in six months!’ The patient looks him full in the face, and turns it over in his mind for a long time, and at last he says, ‘Are you sure of that ’ere, Sir?’ ‘I’ll stake my professional reputation on it,’ says the doctor. ‘How many crumpets at a sittin’ do you think ’ud kill me off at once?’ says the patient. ‘I don’t know,’ says the doctor. ‘Do you think half a crown’s vurth ’ud do it,’ says the patient. ‘I think it might,’ says the doctor. ‘Three shillings vurth ’ud be sure to do it, I s’pose?’ says the patient. ‘Certainly,’ says the doctor. ‘Wery good,’ says the patient; ‘good night’. Next mornin’ he gets up, has a fire lit, orders in three shillins’ vurth o’ crumpets, toasts ’em all, eats ’em all, and blows his brains out.

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