October 23, 2008

"There are very many amongst the Fair Sex who consider the Choice of a Shoe with perhaps greater Care than they would a Candidate on Election Day."

Our most highly esteemed ghost commenter, Sir Archy, made an appearance, here, in the very early hours of the morning. I reprint his words in full:
To Professor Althouse.

Dear Madam,

As the Ghost of a Gentleman, dead these 260 Years and more, you may imagine the Changes in Fashion and Taste to which I have been witness.

Every Age views the Cloathes & Garniture of another with Bemusement and Contempt. As the modern World regards the Fashions of my Day, so I count it as one of the Tortures of this Ghostly Purgatorio in which I find myself, that I must look upon the Female Body so abus'd by modern Garments. I shall not dwell upon the Horrours seeing every Hair & Pimple expos'd, whilst the graceful Lines of the femine Form remain marr'd by the Deshabille of this Age. Nay, Madam, a Madwoman in Bedlam would have been asham'd in my Day to have been drest thus.

For all the Reform so necessary for other modern Cloathes, 'twould appear but a trifling Waste of Time to divert oneself admiring Shoes; yet there are very many amongst the Fair Sex who consider the Choice of a Shoe with perhaps greater Care than they would a Candidate on Election Day. Nevertheless, I cannot forbear to say that modern Shoes are perhaps the least disfigur'd Item of Dress a Woman of this Age has with which to indulge herself.

You may recall, Madam, that I had written previously upon this Topick; I thus beg your Indulgence to do so again, feeling all the Impropriety of my Lack of Originality. I excuse myself by saying that there may be new Members of your Audience, unaccustom'd to my ghostly Thoughts & Notions; and perhaps Others who would not mind seeing an old Idea, recover'd like a lost Buckle from the Bottom of a Drawer.

Many Ladies perhaps will find the Example of Mrs. Palin's Cloathes either useful or repellant; whether, as Electors, they should vote for her or not. There are also Persons of both Sexes amongst the Audience at this your Theatre of Topicks (as I call it), who cannot avert their Eyes from the many Pictures of Mrs. Palin's Feet & Legs everywhere to be seen in News-Papers and upon the Internet. Without the Readers suspending their higher Judgements, 'twould appear that Mrs. Palin's Shoes have become a more diverting Topick than either of the Wretches who would be your President.

The Audience may thus find it worthwhile to dwell a Moment upon this Sort of Vanity, little chang'd over the Centuries, viz., certain Ladies' Love of Shoes. Pray, do not take it amiss, then, if I should reprise, by way of Illustration, the little Tale which (as above) I had told here before:—

I recall Imelda, the young Wife of a Cavalry Officer and Neighbour to my late affianced Wife. Imelda had been a true Friend and great Help to my poor Fiancée when her first Husband died of the Pox (and so became the young Widow whose Acquaintance I was fortunate to have made). A more Kindly & Generous Soul you would never meet than Imelda; she was possess'd also of those Qualities of her Person that, whilst not Beauty of the first Rank, would still turn Heads upon Occasion. Knowing that she was not, perhaps, a great natural Beauty, Imelda sought those little honest Improvements that Ladies may make by the proper Choice of Cloathes & Attention to their Hair, not forgetting some small Dose of Emollients to soften the Appearance & improve the Colour of the Skin, &c. For all that, she had nothing about her of the paint'd Harlot, nor did she attempt the pert Gaiety of a Frenchwoman with colour'd Ribands, Flow'rs, &c. Nay, she cultivated an Air of Tastefulness & Sobriety, rather above her actual Station in Life, giving every Impression of a well-to-do Gentlewoman.

To this End, there were no Lack of Dress-Makers, Milliners, Hair-Dressers and the like, to whom she was wont to pay Custom. But there was one Establishment where she was habitually to be found, even when her Husband was expected on Leave, even when her Relations, come all the way from Wapping, were to appear at any Moment. You may guess that it was the Cobbler's Shop. Some People waste their Time & Fortune with Gamblers & Sharpers; others concerned with their Souls spend many an Hour with Priests; some seek Improvement with Musick-Masters, and still Others with Dancing or Fencing-Masters; so 'twas that Imelda spent every free Moment with Mr. Crispin, Shoe-Maker.

Crispin had made any Number of Lasts upon the Model of her Feet, and found greater Employment than with any other making Shoes & Slippers after the latest Fashions of Paris and our own London Taste for this Lady. When her Husband return'd from the Wars on half-pay, he found Mr. Crispin's Bills exceeded his Income for the Year, and that he was forced to draw upon his modest Estate to pay them. Imelda used to tell, by way of a Jest upon Herself, of the Occasion when she was Nine or Ten, that she ran barefoot into the Parlour where a very grave Bishop was paying the Family a Visit, and cried, "Are not my pretty little Feet fine, Sir?" Her loving Husband finally chided her that, "Your pretty little Feet are bankrupting us, Madam!" and forbade any new Shoes until he had put their Estate in Order.

Here is proclaim'd the Folly of an irrational and unwholesome Attachment to one Part of the Female Body that seems to afflict both Sexes. Certain Ladies love their Shoes too much; and, it must be said, certain Gentlemen love female Feet too much, as well. The making & selling of a Superfluity of Ladies' Shoes seems to have continued unabat'd from my Day to this, proving (as I before averr'd) that such foolish Vanity was not the especial Possession of my Age.

For my Part, whilst in Life not immune to the Charms of each Feature of the feminine Form, and glad to have had them well-drest or display'd, as may have been Proper, I took Delight in the Effect of tout l'ensemble, and remember'd that Nature gave us the whole Woman; and that whether she wore a Sabot or a Silk Stocking, She was, and always will remain, more than the Sum of her Parts.

Praying that neither You nor Members of your Audience would see themselves in any of my Anecdotes, I am,

Madam,

Your most humble & obt. Servant,

Sir Archy

17 comments:

ricpic said...

Perhaps? Perhaps greater care? Aha. Aha ha ha ha ha ha ha.........

rhhardin said...

Next he'll be wanting to hear about your dream last night.

Minzo said...

As much as I dislike Palin, I really dont see what the big deal is. There's no scandal here. I was a lot more outraged when I heard her blatantly lying that the Alaska report had exonerated her yet it said precisely the opposite. The Media didnt say much about that, but she goes on a shopping spree and suddenly thats big news? I must be missing something here...

Darcy said...

That was brilliant!

And now I have a crush on Sir Archy. *sigh*

Bob said...

Does anyone remember when we were told this campaign was going to be issues focused? Its seems so far in the past.

Richard Lawrence Cohen said...

Sir Archy is flat-out wonderful. I especially like "and so became the young Widow..." which refers to the wrong person in true sloppy 18th century style, and "spend many an Hour with Priests," which archly looks back at the previous clause's "waste their Time" without giving overt offense to the church. A quibble: I believe that "painted" and "unabated" should not have apostrophes, since the final -ed is pronounced.

jdeeripper said...

Sir Archy is a computer program, right?

Original George said...

"Facts are but the Play-things of lawyers,—Tops and Hoops, forever a-spin.... Alas, the Historian may indulge no such idle Rotating. History is not Chronology, for that is left to lawyers,—nor is Remembrance, for Remembrance belongs to the People. History can as little pretend to the Veracity of the one, as claim the Power of the other,—her Practitioners, to survive, must soon learn the arts of the quidnunc, spy and Taproom Wit,—that there may ever continue more than one life-line back into a Past we risk, each day, losing our forbears in forever,— not a Chain of single Links, for one broken Link could lose us All,—rather, a great disorderly Tangle of Lines, long and short, weak and strong, vanishing into the Mnemonick Deep, with only their Destination in common." (p.349)

"...Who claims Truth, Truth abandons. History is hir'd, or coerc'd, only in Interests that must ever prove base. She is too innocent, to be left within the reach of anyone in Power,—who need but touch her, and all her Credit is in the instant vanish'd, as if it had never been. She needs rather to be tended lovingly and honorably by fabulists and counterfeiters, Ballad-Mongers and Cranks of ev'ry Radius, Masters of Disguise to provide her the Costume, Toilette, and Bearing, and Speech nimble enough to keep her beyond the Desires, or even the Curiosity, of Government..." (p.350)

From Thomas Pynchon's "Mason & Dixon"

ricpic said...

The fair sex knows what truly counts,
'Tis not affairs of state;
Rather the world is fixed and mounts
'Pon she who radiates.

Duscany said...

Sir Archy uses too many words.

AllenS said...

What a waste of a mans time. Say what you want to say and be done with it. "'twould appear but a trifling Waste of Time to divert oneself admiring Shoes". Huh?

Back in the 1960's people thought that pig latin was cool. Not me.

$9,000,000,000 Write Off said...

Mr. Archy, do you regret that, with your gang of villains profoundly skilled in Pneumatic Chemistry, you did assail Mr. Matthews by means of an Air Loom from your apartment near London Wall?

I have read a report of Mr. M's testimony from those days long since passed, that Mr. Archy is

"about 55 years of age, wears a drab coloured coat, and, according to the old fashion, his breeches button between his legs. Some of the gang assert that Sir Archy is a woman dressed in men’s apparel; and whenever Mr. M has endeavoured, by enquiry, to ascertain this fact, Sire Archy has answered in a manner so quaint and indelicate that I cannot venture to communicate his reply. Sir Archy is considered as the common liar of the gang; a low-minded, indeed blackguard, always cracking obscene jokes and throwing out gibes and sarcasms. In his speech there is an affectation of a provincial accent, so that when Mr. M asserts the truth of any fact, Sir Archy replies yho )you) are mesteaken (mistaken). His mode of communicating with Mr. M. is principally by “brain-sayings”.

veni vidi vici said...

What Duscany said. Archy's verbal flatulence only got to my outer nostril cilia before I stopped reading and moved on to something else.

A guy calling himself "sir" might consider having the manners not to bore his audience!

Cousin Bob said...

Jaysus H Cayrist! What's wrong with you people?

Even I can understand Sir Archy, and I deal blackjack at a freaking Indian casino in California.

If you can't read anything longer than a stop sign, maybe you've been tweaking too long. Got a lot of that around here.

I stopped that shit myself when the snakes started coming out of the radio in my rig. Used to be a trucker.

Anyway, don't you people ever read?
(Don't answer that. It's a trick question. John Deere repair manuals don't count. Sometimes I'm into Volvo diesel injector repair manuals myself.)

I got back into reading myself when I was coming out of rehab and had a lot of time on my hands.  Think your wife is crazy?  Read "Madame Bovary" sometimes.

So, if you've ever read "Pride and Prejudice" or maybe "Tristram Shandy," maybe you'd have some idea of where Sir Archy's coming from. (I don't have too many hopes for this crowd, though.)

But, hey, let me translate for you:

First off, Archy says he's a ghost, dead since before 1748 (blackjack helps my arithmetic).

Next he says modern womens clothing sucks. No argument there. He seems to think women's clothes back in the 1700's were hotter. Dunno. All those girls are dead.

Then he says that shoes are about the only women's clothes that don't suck today. Kinda see his point. Says women shouldn't get hung up on shoes and makes some snide remarks about Palin crap.

Next, he launches into a long story about a girlfriend of his fiancee. Seems this friend was an Army wife with too much time on her hands. We all know the type. Think MILF in hoopskirts.

Anyway, this MILF seems to be fooling around with a guy named Crispin, who owns a shoe store. (I'm reading between the lines) She spends a lot of money at his store. Seen that action, too. Seems she was into shoes, big time, while Crispin was into her.

So, hubby comes back from Iraq, er, Flanders, and finds she's maxed out her credit card buying a closet full of shoes. Sick. Sick. Sick. She tells a cute little story about when she was a little girl and liked her cute feet (Don't even THINK of going there), and hubby throws it back in her face when he hits the ceiling about the $25k in shoes she's bought while he was sucking sand in Iraq..er..actually, he just says something about her bankrupting them, and he was falling off his horse in Holland.  I'm sure he has his suspicions, but doesn't say anything about Crispin, at least that Sir Archy tells us.

Archy then wraps it up, and says that guys shouldn't get hung up on feet or tits, etc., but learn to appreciate the whole package.

Nice little story.  Nice little moral:  Don't get into any fetish crap and appreciate your woman.

Now, it didn't take him a whole lot longer than it's taken me.  Sometimes, that 18th century language can be really to the point, but there's a lot of decoration around it, which freaks some people out.

I'll finish by supplying ye olde and the modern versions of the scene when hubby comes home and gets the credit card statement and the lay of the land:

Ye Olde--

Hubby (Captain, His Majesty's 9th Regiment of Horse):  Madam, your pretty little feet are bankrupting us!
Wife (18th century MILF):  Oh, Sir!  I am so sorry I got carried away!  Mr. Crispin's tool..er..workmanship was so wonderful that I quite forgot the expense!  Pray, forgive me!
Hubby:  Do not trouble yourself, Madam.  I shall resolve the matter.  But in the meantime I must insist you pay no further custom to Mr. Crispin, as you have shoes enough.
(What he's really thinking:  Crispin will forget this bill, or I'll shorten his tool with my sword. I may do it anyway...)

Modern--

Hubby (Captain, US Army Airborne):  WTF?!?!!  You spent $25k on fuckin' SHOES??
Wife (Palin look-alike):  I'm sorry, honey, I just got more and more into shoes when you were gone.
Hubby:  Yeah, but it's all at one freakin' shoe store.  Who's the owner.  I'm going to call him up and see if you can't return some of that crap.
Wife:  They're very nice shoes.  They're not crap!  Give me some credit for a little taste!
Hubby:  Taste? You?? Have you been fucking the owner of that shoe store like you did that car dealer last time??
Wife:  Sonofabitch.  Can't you ever let that go?
Hubby:  Not when you're sucking the neighbor's cock, too.
Wife:  Goddam you!  That's a lie!  Why are you bringing up all that old shit?
Hubby:  Because you're a fucking bitch, that's why!  Never had any self-control...
Wife:  Don't give me that self-control crap!  You should talk! You lay a hand on me again, and I'll have a restraining order and your ass in jail so fast it'll make your head spin....

So, dear readers (as Sir Archy might say), I'll draw a curtain over this scene of 21st century wedded bliss.

Now, if Sir Archy wrote like that, would you complain?

Can't imagine you would.

Sir Archy said...

To Mr. Write Off.

Sir,

I may tell you that I was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland in the Year 1690/91, and died on the Streets of London in the Year 1747, long before the Time of your Sir Archy.  I had never suffer'd a serious Distemper in my Life, and was yet in full possession of Health & Vigour, or so it seem'd.  I was on Foot on my way  to a Lawyer's Office in the Inner Temple, when an Apoplectick Fit struck me.  I managed to gain the Steps of a familiar Stationer's Shop, and was carry'd inside by my old Friend, the Owner.  I had been depriv'd of Speach, but as my Hand still had Power, I wrote a Note asking for my Chiurgeon, and that Word be sent to the assembled Company at Mr. Farrell's, the Lawyer.  These Wishes were promptly comply'd with; but 'twas too late:  I found myself drifting about the Ceiling of the Shop, looking down at the Scene of my own Death.  Thus, Sir, I became a Ghost.

I had not yet favour'd the Audience of Professor Althouse's Theatre of Topicks (as I call it) with an Account of this dreary Event, for the same Reasons you see my other Writings castigat'd:  'Twould be too great a Bore to recount & read.  I may do so in another Venue for the Benefit of those Members of the Publick who expect they should die some Day.

But, Sir, you do bring up the most painful Episode in all my ghostly Existence:  'Tis commonly believed that Ghosts haunt both Places and Persons; and, indeed, my early Memories as a Ghost were of being blown about on unfelt Winds, with little Volition of my own, save a Tendancy to remain near Scenes of my fortunate Earthly Happiness.  Little did I suspect that a Ghost may be taken up and incorporat'd into the Mind of a living Man, much less that of a Madman.

So 'twas that Mr. Matthews, a raving Lunatick, became my ghostly Gaoler for 20 Years and more.  In Life, I was unduly fond of the Theatre, and sometimes excercis'd my Fancy imagining myself an Actor.  In Death, I was forc'd to rehearse the Lines and play the Character of the dreadful Sir Archy you quote from the Description written in Bedlam of Mr. Matthew's Distemper.  Mr. Matthew's Sir Archy was my Opposite in every Regard: My only Hope during all those Years was that I was being taught a Lesson about my chearful Disregard of Suffering whilst I was alive, and that I should be releas'd from this particular Purgatorio upon Mr. Matthew's Death.

And so it fell out. I had learnt much of Madness and the Treatments of Lunacy. And I had learnt much of the Darkness of the Soul, from which my optimistick Nature had caus'd me so often to look away. I additionally suspect my ghostly Sentence to Bedlam was but a Continuation of the desultory Study of Madness I had made in Life.  There is much more to be said about this, Sir; but I fear my Performances are neither Short nor Smart enough to gratify a distract'd Publick, so I must beg your Leave to conclude this Letter in Haste.

I shall only say, further, that my Experiences of the French Revolution, of Bedlam, and of the dark, Satanick Mills o'erspreading the English and Scotch Countryside, resolv'd me to remain true to my youthful Nature, made wiser by Experience; and to hold fast to the Manners, Philosophy, Art, Musick, and Language of those early Years of my Century that I could truly call mine own.

Thus I remain to this Day, reminding you of another Age, of an History I trust I may tend lovingly and honourably, as Mr. Pynchon says, perhaps as a Fabulist or Master of Disguise, or even as a Crank, all the while assuring you that I am,

Sir,

Your humble Servant,

Sir Archy

Darcy said...

Aww...Cousin Bob gets it. :)

And of course some of us read P&P, silly!

Another missive from Sir Archy. Delightful!

$9,000,000,000 Write Off said...

Apologies, Sir Archy, for my Curiosity overcame my Courtesy, in quereying such painful ghostly Episode and for misteken yho for that Bedlam Stalwart, Mr. Matthews. (Forgive my poor Imitation of your now Quaint, but yet Nimble language, but it pleases me to pantomime It as compliment, a form or welcoming, of hearth and home.)

It perplexes me yet, I confess, that Mr. Matthews found the lowest-minded blackguard his Imagination allow’d and named him Sir Archy and more, his mind asserts that his Sir Archy is a Woman dressed in Men’s appellation. What Impelled such Accuracy of Name, but Mistekenness of Description and of Gender by Mr. Matthews? What thought guided him as hecontemporaneous swaddled you, the True Sir Archy, then resting from drifting about, in his Lunacy? How could You, recently blown about on unfelt Winds, with little Volition of your own, graduate by such Lunacy to candidate of Transformation?

You venture the answer, "Mr. Matthew's Sir Archy was my Opposite in every Regard" but how come you to conclude this, when em-bosomed within that Lunatik's Out-Parish, were you not so Afflicted as Well? I am Curious, but not Querulous, maybe Neutral.

I assure you, Sir Archy, The True Audience of Professor Althouse's Theatre of Topicks does not the least mind your musings. The malcontents complaining here are not proper Audience Members, but mere intemperant boils on the fair flanks of our Hostess's comment page, waiting only a good Purge and Bloodletting. They want only more, More, Politiks, for more Mysoginy and, with apology, more of the Aged, of the Gaffe and Husky Victor. This, but not Culture, Imagination, Fancy and Wordsmithery. Fie and Sigh.

Querulous it sounds, but I am your Reader and Admirer, etc.

$9,000,000,000 Write Off

If it please and time permits, tell more of your adventures. Perhaps your 18th year welccom'd The Old Pretender at Firth of Forth? How'd that go? Did you face him as fan or as militia’d foe?