240 Written Sketches
much out of the way. Still I would have taken it if it had not
been the Cock. I thought of all the trash that has been written
about it and of Tennyson's plump head waiter (who by the
way used to swear that he did not know Tennyson and that
Tennyson never did resort to the Cock) and I said to myself :
" No—you may go. I will put out no hand to save you."
Myself in Bowie's Shop
I always buy ready-made boots and insist on taking those
which the shopman says are much too large for me. By this
means I keep free from corns, but I have a great deal of trouble
generally with the shopman. I had got on a pair once which
I thought would do, and the shopman said for the third or
" But really, sir, these boots are much too large for you/'
I turned to him and said rather sternly, " Now, you made
that remark before."
There was nothing in it, but all at once I became aware that
I was being watched, and, looking up, saw a middle-aged
gentleman eyeing the whole proceedings with much amuse-
ment. He was quite polite but he was obviously exceedingly
amused. I can hardly tell why, nor why I should put such a
trifle down, but somehow or other an impression was made
upon me by the affair quite out of proportion to that usually
produced by so small a matter.
Mr. Forsyth had been stopping a tooth for me and then
talked a little, as he generally does, and asked me if I knew
a certain distinguished literary man, or rather journalist. I
said No, and that I did not want to know him. The paper
edited by the gentleman in question was not to my taste. I
was a literary Ishmael, and preferred to remain so. It was
" It seems to me," I continued, " that if a man will only
be careful not to write about things that he does not under-
stand, if he will use the tooth-pick freely and the spirit twice
a day, and come to you again in October, he will get on very
well without knowing any of the big-wigs."