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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 30

The Frontispiece

The Frontispiece.

The Frontispiece is the incorporation of an idea—one of those little Ticklewits who so unexpectedly present themselves when their company is particularly unsolicited, but who (or which) in reality are friends in disguise, as prompting contrastive conceptions which strip the pretentious, the ostentatious, and the patronising of that meritricious dignity they can so successfully palm off upon the poor in spirit and humble-minded, who take sawdust for flesh, and paint for complexion. Ticklewit is sitting on the platform of ephemerality—a mushroom, as the sentinel, keeping guard at the outpost of the land of Avilion, or Elysia, or Comprehensia, as that your wits must counterpoint his before you can gain a pass for admission. I have not exhibited him in colours for a very good reason, but his shirt should be red, to intimate his personality; his cloak, of which you see very little, should be blue, to intimate his amiability, and his breeches should be yellow, to intimate his isolatedness; and he is in attitude for the capability of jumping into your head, if you will only give him welcome. Poetically, he may describe himself as—

I'm a dear little fellow,
Dress'd in red, blue, and yellow;
To this fact I may mention,
That my eyes are blight,
For my heart is light,
And my name is Comprehension.

page 23

I was in some hesitation as to giving him peaspod shoes, and gossamer socks, but the pods would give a sabot clumsiness to the idea, which would hinder his springiness; and if there is one thing more abhorent than another it is clumsiness; and one delight the most gratifying is clean workmanship, deftly executed without apparent exertion. Instead of gossamer, I have given him cotton socks, as more durable, and a sentinel would not wish for silk, though of course he could have taken a pair of silk socks from the Avilion Cooperative Distribution Store.

Describing his accoutrements, his sunshade is an inverted convolvulus, as he does not fear for his head; wit is only vulnerable from behind; it is the pooh! pooh! of stupidity that disconcerts it, and makes it hide under the sentry-box mushroom; the stalk forms a note of interrogation. I do not know where he got his shield-leaf from, so cannot assert its classification, and it is not of much use except as a large fan, behind which he can laugh at your discomfiture; his bulrush is his great assistance in activity, which he uses pretty much as the clown uses the stick and bladder, but it is full of electricity, in fact it is a sort of fluffy Leyden jar, with which lie gives you that flash so provocative (through its inoportune influence) of fun, in witnessing the distress of the friendly. There is a large family of Ticklewits; a few may be seen at Osmond's Hotel, in the Strand, opposite Southampton Street, who, it is assumed, will cheer your appetite as it is dissipated and aid digestion by the infusion of their gentle geniality.