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A Bad Example
by [?]


James Clinton was a clerk in the important firm of Haynes, Bryan & Co., and he held in it an important position. He was the very essence of respectability, and he earned one hundred and fifty-six pounds per annum. James Clinton believed in the Church of England and the Conservative party, in the greatness of Great Britain, in the need of more ships for the navy, and in the superiority of city men to other members of the commonweal.

‘It’s the man of business that makes the world go round,’ he was in the habit of saying. ‘D’you think, sir, that fifty thousand country squires could rule Great Britain? No; it’s the city man, the man who’s ‘ad a sound business training, that’s made England what it is. And that is why I ‘old the Conservative party most capable of governing this mighty empire, because it ‘as taken the business man to its ‘eart. The strength of the Conservative party lies in its brewers and its city men, its bankers and iron-founders and stockbrokers; and as long as the Liberal party is a nest of Socialists and Trades-Unionists and Anarchists, we city men cannot and will not give it our support.’

Except for the lamentable conclusion of his career, he would undoubtedly have become an Imperialist, and the Union of the Great Anglo-Saxon Races would have found in him the sturdiest of supporters!

Mr Clinton was a little, spindly-shanked man, with weak, myopic eyes, protruding fishlike behind his spectacles. His hair was scant, worn long to conceal the baldness of the crown–and Caesar was pleased to wear a wreath of laurel for the same purpose…. Mr Clinton wore small side-whiskers, but was otherwise clean-shaven, and the lack of beard betrayed the weakness of his mouth; his teeth were decayed and yellow. He was always dressed in a black tail-coat, shiny at the elbows; and he wore a shabby, narrow black tie, with a false diamond stud in his dickey. His grey trousers were baggy at the knees and frayed at the edges; his boots had a masculine and English breadth of toe. His top hat, of antiquated shape, was kept carefully brushed, but always looked as if it were suffering from a recent shower. When he had deserted the frivolous byways in which bachelordom is wont to disport itself for the sober path of the married man, he had begun to carry to and from the city a small black bag to impress upon the world at large his eminent respectability. Mr Clinton was married to Amy, second daughter of John Rayner, Esquire, of Peckham Rye….


Every morning Mr Clinton left his house in Camberwell in time to catch the eight-fifty-five train for the city. He made his way up Ludgate Hill, walking sideways, with a projection of the left part of his body, a habit he had acquired from constantly slipping past and between people who walked less rapidly than himself. Such persons always annoyed him; if they were not in a hurry he was, and they had no right to obstruct the way; and it was improper for a city man to loiter in the morning–the luncheon-hour was the time for loitering, no one was then in haste; but in the morning and at night on the way back to the station, one ought to walk at the same pace as everybody else. If Mr Clinton had been head of a firm, he would never have had in his office a man who sauntered in the morning. If a man wanted to loiter, let him go to the West-end; there he could lounge about all day. But the city was meant for business, and there wasn’t time for West-end airs in the city.

Mr Clinton reached his office at a quarter to ten, except when the train, by some mistake, arrived up to time, when he arrived at nine-thirty precisely. On these occasions he would sit in his room with the door open, awaiting the coming of the office-boy, who used to arrive two minutes before Mr Clinton and was naturally much annoyed when the punctuality of the train prepared him a reprimand.