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Page:Chesterton - Alarms and Discursions (Methuen, 1910).djvu/213

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is that there is a contrast between commonplace resources and one comic idea. What is deadly dull about the millionaire-banquets is that there is a contrast between colossal resources and no idea.

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That is the abyss of inanity in such feasts--it may be literally called a yawning abyss. The abyss is the vast chasm between the money power employed and the thing it is employed on. To make a big joke out of a broomstick, a barrow and an old hat--that is great. But to make a small joke out of mountains of emeralds and tons of gold--surely that is humiliating! The North Pole is not a very good joke to start with. An icicle hanging on one's nose is a simple sort of humour in any case. If a set of spontaneous mummers got the effect cleverly with cut crystals from the early Victorian chandelier there might really be something suddenly funny in it. But what should we say of hanging diamonds on a hundred human noses merely to make that precious joke about icicles?

What can be more abject than the union of elaborate and recherché arrangements with an old and obvious point? The clown with the red-hot poker and the string of sausages is all very well in his way. But think of a string of pate de foie gras