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3. "He is a Perfectly Impossible Person"
My friend's fear or hope was not destined to be realized. When I called on Wednesday
there was a letter with the West Kensington postmark upon it, and my name scrawled
across the envelope in a handwriting which looked like a barbed-wire railing. The
contents were as follows:--
"SIR,--I have duly received your note, in which you claim to endorse my views, although
I am not aware that they are dependent upon endorsement either from you or anyone else.
You have ventured to use the word `speculation' with regard to my statement upon the
subject of Darwinism, and I would call your attention to the fact that such a word in such
a connection is offensive to a degree. The context convinces me, however, that you have
sinned rather through ignorance and tactlessness than through malice, so I am content to
pass the matter by. You quote an isolated sentence from my lecture, and appear to have
some difficulty in understanding it. I should have thought that only a sub-human
intelligence could have failed to grasp the point, but if it really needs amplification I shall
consent to see you at the hour named, though visits and visitors of every sort are
exceeding distasteful to me. As to your suggestion that I may modify my opinion, I
would have you know that it is not my habit to do so after a deliberate expression of my
mature views. You will kindly show the envelope of this letter to my man, Austin, when
you call, as he has to take every precaution to shield me from the intrusive rascals who
call themselves `journalists.'
"Yours faithfully,
This was the letter that I read aloud to Tarp Henry, who had come down early to hear the
result of my venture. His only remark was, "There's some new stuff, cuticura or
something, which is better than arnica." Some people have such extraordinary notions of
It was nearly half-past ten before I had received my message, but a taxicab took me round
in good time for my appointment. It was an imposing porticoed house at which we
stopped, and the heavily-curtained windows gave every indication of wealth upon the
part of this formidable Professor. The door was opened by an odd, swarthy, dried-up
person of uncertain age, with a dark pilot jacket and brown leather gaiters. I found
afterwards that he was the chauffeur, who filled the gaps left by a succession of fugitive
butlers. He looked me up and down with a searching light blue eye.
"Expected?" he asked.
"An appointment."
"Got your letter?"