Being now released from any active concern in temporary politics, and from any literary occupation involving personal communication with contributors and others, I was enabled to indulge the inclination, natural to thinking persons when the age of boyish vanity is once past, for limiting my own society to a very few persons. General society, as now carried on in England, is so insipid an affair, even to the persons who make it what it is, that it is kept up for any reason rather than the pleasure it affords. All serious discussion on matters on which opinions differ, being considered ill-bred, and the national deficiency in liveliness and sociability having prevented the cultivation of the art of talking agreeably on trifles, in which the French of the last century so much excelled, the sole attraction of what is called society to those who are not at the top of the tree, is the hope of being aided to climb a little higher in it; while to those who are already at the top, it is chiefly a compliance with custom, and with the supposed requirements of their station. To a person of any but a very common order in thought or feeling, such society, unless he has personal objects to serve by it, must be supremely unattractive: and most people, in the present day, of any really high class of intellect, make their contact with it so slight, and at such long intervals, as to be almost considered as retiring from it altogether. Those persons of any mental superiority who do otherwise, are, almost without exception, greatly deteriorated by it. Not to mention loss of time, the tone of their feelings is lowered: they become less in earnest about those of their opinions respecting which they must remain silent in the society they frequent: they come to look upon their most elevated objects as unpractical, or, at least, too remote from realization to be more than a vision, or a theory. and if, more fortunate than most, they retain their higher principles unimpaired, yet with respect to the persons and affairs of their own day they insensibly adopt the modes of feeling and judgment in which they can hope for sympathy from the company they keep. A person of high intellect should never go into unintellectual society unless he can enter it as an apostle; yet he is the only person with high objects who can safely enter it at all. Persons even of intellectual aspirations had much better, if they can, make their habitual associates of at least their equals, and, as far as possible, their superiors, in knowledge, intellect, and elevation of sentiment. Moreover, if the character is formed, and the mind made up, on the few cardinal points of human opinion, agreement of conviction and feeling on these, has been felt in all times to be an essential requisite of anything worthy the name of friendship, in a really earnest mind. All these circumstances united, made the number very small of those whose society, and still more whose intimacy, I now voluntarily sought.
"What about the provenance? What do the experts say about that?"
"No, honestly, darling, I really think I'd better go. I'd be in terrible trouble if I was late at the office, and the Prime Minister, Sir Alexander Bustamante, you know will have his eightieth birthday, well he's coming to lunch, and you know His Excellency always likes me to do the flowers and arrange the place cards and as a matter of fact"-she turned charmingly towards Mr. Scaramanga-"it's quite a day for me. The party was going to make up thirteen, so His Excellency has asked me to be the fourteenth. Isn't that marvellous? But heaven knows what I'm going to look like after tonight. The roads really are terrible in parts, aren't they, Mr.-er-Scramble. But there it is. And I do apologize for causing all this disturbance and keeping you from your beauty sleep."
There was a knock on the door and the duty Medical Officer came into the room. M. bade him good afternoon and turned stiffly on his heel and walked out through the open door.
Now dusk was approaching, but otherwise the scene (a year later to become famous as Checkpoint Charlie) was like a well-remembered photograph-the wasteland in front of him, the bright river of the frontier road, the further wasteland, and, on the left, the ugly square block of the Haus der Ministerien with its lit and dark windows. Bond scanned it all slowly, moving the sniperscope, with the rifle, by means of the precision screws on the wooden base. It was all the same except that now there was a trickle of personnel leaving and entering the Haus der Ministerien through the door onto the Wilhelmstrasse. Bond looked long at the four dark windows-dark again tonight-that he agreed with Sender were the enemy's firing points. The curtains were drawn back, and the sash windows were wide open at the bottom. Bond's scope could not penetrate into the rooms, but there was no sign of movement within the four oblong black gaping mouths.
An Editor's Tales, 1870 378 0 0
And then a certain other phase of my private life crept into official view, and did me a damage. As I shall explain just now, I rarely at this time had any money wherewith to pay my bills. In this state of things a certain tailor had taken from me an acceptance for, I think, ￡12, which found its way into the hands of a money-lender. With that man, who lived in a little street near Mecklenburgh Square, I formed a most heart-rending but a most intimate acquaintance. In cash I once received from him ￡4. For that and for the original amount of the tailor’s bill, which grew monstrously under repeated renewals, I paid ultimately something over ￡200. That is so common a story as to be hardly worth the telling; but the peculiarity of this man was that he became so attached to me as to visit me every day at my office. For a long period he found it to be worth his while to walk up those stone steps daily, and come and stand behind my chair, whispering to me always the same words: “Now I wish you would be punctual. If you only would be punctual, I should like you to have anything you want.” He was a little, clean, old man, who always wore a high starched white cravat inside of which he had a habit of twisting his chin as he uttered his caution. When I remember the constant persistency of his visits, I cannot but feel that he was paid very badly for his time and trouble. Those visits were very terrible, and can have hardly been of service to me in the office.