(In answer to a young lady who has sent an invitation to
be present at a children's party)
Allow me very gratefully but firmly to refuse your kind
invitation. You doubtless mean well; but your ideas are
Let us understand one another once and for all. I cannot
at my mature age participate in the sports of children
with such abandon as I could wish. I entertain, and have
always entertained, the sincerest regard for such games
as Hunt-the-Slipper and Blind-Man's Buff. But I have now
reached a time of life, when, to have my eyes blindfolded
and to have a powerful boy of ten hit me in the back with
a hobby-horse and ask me to guess who hit me, provokes
me to a fit of retaliation which could only culminate in
reckless criminality. Nor can I cover my shoulders with
a drawing-room rug and crawl round on my hands and knees
under the pretence that I am a bear without a sense of
personal insufficiency, which is painful to me.
Neither can I look on with a complacent eye at the sad
spectacle of your young clerical friend, the Reverend
Mr. Uttermost Farthing, abandoning himself to such gambols
and appearing in the role of life and soul of the evening.
Such a degradation of his holy calling grieves me, and
I cannot but suspect him of ulterior motives.
You inform me that your maiden aunt intends to help you
to entertain the party. I have not, as you know, the
honour of your aunt's acquaintance, yet I think I may
with reason surmise that she will organize games--guessing
games--in which she will ask me to name a river in Asia
beginning with a Z; on my failure to do so she will put
a hot plate down my neck as a forfeit, and the children
will clap their hands. These games, my dear young friend,
involve the use of a more adaptable intellect than mine,
and I cannot consent to be a party to them.
May I say in conclusion that I do not consider a five-cent
pen-wiper from the top branch of a Xmas tree any adequate
compensation for the kind of evening you propose.
I have the honour
To subscribe myself,
Your obedient servant.
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