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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–1863)

Mr. Yellowplush to Sir Edward Lytton Bulwer

From “The Memoirs of Mr. Yellowplush”

HONRABBLE Barnet!—Retired from the littery world a year or moar, I didn’t think anythink would injuice me to come forrards again; for I was content with my share of reputation, and propoas’d to add nothink to those immortial wux which have rendered this Magaseen so sallybrated.

Shall I tell you the reazn of my reappearants? A desire for the benefick of my fellow-creatures? Fiddlestick! A mighty truth with which my busm laboured, and which I must bring forth or die? Nonsince—stuff! Money’s the secret, my dear Barnet—money—l’argong, gelt, spicunia. Here’s quarter-day coming, and I’m blest if I can pay my landlud, unless I can ad hartificially to my inkum.

This is, however, betwigst you and me. There’s no need to blacard the streets with it, or to tell the British public that Fitzroy Y-ll-wpl-sh is short of money, or that the sallybrated hauthor of the Y—— Papers is in peskewniary difficklties, or is fiteagued by his superhuman littery labours, or by his famly suckmstansies, or by any other pusnal matter. My maxim, dear Bullwig, is on these pints to keep quiet. What the juice does the public care for you or me? Why must we always, in prefizzes and what not, be a talking about ourselves, and our igstrodnary merrats, woas, and injaries? It is on this subjick that I porpies, my dear Barnet, to speak to you in a friendly way; and praps you’ll find my advice tolrabbly holesum.

Well, then—if you care about the apinions, fur good or evil, of us poor suvvants, I tell you, in the most candied way, I like you, Barnet. I’ve had my fling at you in my day—for, entry nou, that last stoary I roat about you and Larnder was as big a bownsir as ever was—I’ve had my fling at you; but I like you. One may objeck to an immence deal of your writings, which, betwigst you and me, contain more sham scentiment, sham morallaty, sham poatry, than you’d like to own; but, in spite of this, there’s the stuff in you. You’ve a kind and loyal heart in you, Barnet—a trifle deboshed, perhaps; a keen i, igspecially for what’s comic—as for your tradgady, it’s mighty flatchulent—and a ready, plesnt pen. The man who says you are an As is an As himself. Don’t believe him, Barnet. Not that I suppose you wil. For, if I’ve formd a correck apinion of you from your wucks, you think your small-beear as good as most men’s. Every man does—and why not? We brew, and we love, our own tap—amen. But the pint betwigst us, is this stewpid, absudd way of crying out, because the public don’t like it too. Why shood they, my dear Barnet? You may vow that they are fools; or that the critix are your enemies; or that the wuld shood judge your poams by your critticle rules, and not their own. You may beat your breast, and vow you are a marter, and you won’t mend the matter. Take heart, man! You’re not so misrabble, after all; your spirits need not be so very cast down; you are not so very badly paid. I’d lay a wager that you make, with one thing or another—plays, novvles, pamphlicks, and little odd jobs here and there—your three thowsnd a year. There’s many a man, dear Bullwig, that works for less, and lives content. Why shouldn’t you? Three thowsnd a year is no such bad thing—let alone the barnetcy. It must be a great comfort to have that bloody hand in your skitching.

But don’t you sea, that in a wuld naturally envius, wickid, and fond of a joak, this very barnetcy, these very cumplaints, this ceaseless groning and moning and wining of yours, is igsackly the thing which makes people laff and snear more? If you were ever at a great school, you must recklect who was the boy most bullid and buffitid and purshewd—he who minded it most. He who could take a basting got but few; he who rord and wep because the knotty boys called him nicknames, was nicknamed wuss and wuss. I recklect there was at our school, in Smithfield, a chap of this milksop, spoony sort, who appeared among the romping, ragged fellers in a fine flanning dressing-gownd that his mamma had given him. That pore boy was beaten in a way that his dear ma and aunts didn’t know him; his fine flanning dressing-gownd was torn all to ribbings, and he got no pease in the school ever after, but was abliged to be taken to some other saminary, where, I make no doubt, he was paid off igsactly in the same way.

Do you take the halligory, my dear Barnet? Mutayto nominy—you know what I mean. You are the boy, and your barnetcy is the dressing-gownd. You dress yourself out finer than other chaps, and they all begin to sault and hustle you. It’s human nature, Barnet. You show weakness, think of your dear ma, mayhap, and begin to cry. It’s all over with you: the whole school is at you—upper boys and under, big and little; the dirtiest little fag in the place will pipe out blaggerd names at you, and take his pewny tug at your tail.

The only way to avoid such consperracies is to put a pair of stowt shoalders forrards, and bust through the crowd of raggymuffins. A good bold fellow dubls his fistt, and cries, “Wha dares meddle wi’ me?” When Scott got his barnetcy, for instans, did any one of us cry out? No, by the laws, he was our master; and wo betide the chap that said neigh to him! But there’s barnets and barnets. Do you recklect that fine chapter in “Squintin Durward,” about the too fellos and the cups, at the siege of the bishop’s castle? One of them was a brave warrier, and kep his cup; they strangled the other chap—strangled him, and laffd at him too.

With respeck, then, to the barnetcy pint, this is my advise: brazen it out. Us littery men I take to be like a pack of schoolboys—childish, greedy, envius, holding by our friends, and always ready to fight. What must be a man’s conduck among such? He must either take no notis, and pass on myjastick, or else turn round and pummle soundly—one, two, right and left, ding dong over the face and eyes; above all, never acknowledge that he is hurt. Years ago, for instans—we’ve no ill blood, but only mention this by way of igsample—you began a sparring with this Magaseen. Law bless you! such a ridicklus gaym I never see; a man so belaybord, beflustered, bewolloped, was never known; it was the laff of the whole town. Your intelackshal natur, respected Barnet, is not fizzickly adapted, so to speak, for encounters of this sort. You must not indulge in combats with us course bullies of the press; you have not the staminy for a reglar set-to. What, then, is your plan? In the midst of the mob to pass as quiet as you can. You won’t be undistubbed. Who is? Some stray kix and buffits will fall to you—mortial man is subjick to such; but if you begin to wins and cry out, and set up for a marter, wo betide you!

These remarks, pusnal as I confess them to be, are yet, I assure you, written in perfick good-natur, and have been inspired by your play of the “Sea Capting,” and prefiz to it; which latter is on matters intirely pusnal, and will, therefore, I trust, igscuse this kind of ad hominam—as they say—diskcushion.