Impressions of Theophrastus Such eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 171 pages of information about Impressions of Theophrastus Such.
them all, either by a respectful neutrality, as of one who would not appear to notice that his master had been taking too much wine, or else by that strong persuasion of his all-knowingness which makes it simply impossible for him to feel himself newly informed.  If I tell him that the world is spinning round and along like a top, and that he is spinning with it, he says, “Yes, I’ve heard a deal of that in my time, sir,” and lifts the horizontal lines of his brow a little higher, balancing his head from side to side as if it were too painfully full.  Whether I tell him that they cook puppies in China, that there are ducks with fur coats in Australia, or that in some parts of the world it is the pink of politeness to put your tongue out on introduction to a respectable stranger, Pummel replies, “So I suppose, sir,” with an air of resignation to hearing my poor version of well-known things, such as elders use in listening to lively boys lately presented with an anecdote book.  His utmost concession is, that what you state is what he would have supplied if you had given him carte blanche instead of your needless instruction, and in this sense his favourite answer is, “I should say.”

“Pummel,” I observed, a little irritated at not getting my coffee, “if you were to carry your kettle and spirits of wine up a mountain of a morning, your water would boil there sooner.”  “I should say, sir.”  “Or, there are boiling springs in Iceland.  Better go to Iceland.”  “That’s what I’ve been thinking, sir.”

I have taken to asking him hard questions, and as I expected, he never admits his own inability to answer them without representing it as common to the human race.  “What is the cause of the tides, Pummel?”

“Well, sir, nobody rightly knows.  Many gives their opinion, but if I was to give mine, it ’ud be different.”

But while he is never surprised himself, he is constantly imagining situations of surprise for others.  His own consciousness is that of one so thoroughly soaked in knowledge that further absorption is impossible, but his neighbours appear to him to be in the state of thirsty sponges which it is a charity to besprinkle.  His great interest in thinking of foreigners is that they must be surprised at what they see in England, and especially at the beef.  He is often occupied with the surprise Adam must have felt at the sight of the assembled animals—­“for he was not like us, sir, used from a b’y to Wombwell’s shows.”  He is fond of discoursing to the lad who acts as shoe-black and general subaltern, and I have overheard him saying to that small upstart, with some severity, “Now don’t you pretend to know, because the more you pretend the more I see your ignirance”—­a lucidity on his part which has confirmed my impression that the thoroughly self-satisfied person is the only one fully to appreciate the charm of humility in others.

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Impressions of Theophrastus Such from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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