Insult of the Week: A “stiff-necked, arrogant imbecile, pig-headed numskull”

This week’s insult is brought to you by Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. During an ongoing feud between Mr Lawrence Boythorn and Sir Leicester Dedlock over “the green pathway by the old parsonage-house” (that neither man actually seems to want), Boythorn explains their exchanges on the subject

“The fellow, by his agent, or secretary, or somebody, writes to me ‘Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet, presents his compliments to Mr. Lawrence Boythorn, and has to call his attention to the fact that the green pathway by the old parsonage-house, now the property of Mr. Lawrence Boythorn, is Sir Leicester’s right of way, being in fact a portion of the park of Chesney Wold, and that Sir Leicester finds it convenient to close up the same.’ I write to the fellow, ‘Mr. Lawrence Boythorn presents his compliments to Sir Leicester Dedlock, Baronet, and has to call HIS attention to the fact that he totally denies the whole of Sir Leicester Dedlock’s positions on every possible subject and has to add, in reference to closing up the pathway, that he will be glad to see the man who may undertake to do it.’ The fellow sends a most abandoned villain with one eye to construct a gateway. I play upon that execrable scoundrel with a fire-engine until the breath is nearly driven out of his body. The fellow erects a gate in the night. I chop it down and burn it in the morning. He sends his myrmidons to come over the fence and pass and repass. I catch them in humane man traps, fire split peas at their legs, play upon them with the engine–resolve to free mankind from the insupportable burden of the existence of those lurking ruffians. He brings actions for trespass; I bring actions for trespass. He brings actions for assault and battery; I defend them and continue to assault and batter. Ha, ha, ha!”

Boythron gives a harsh assessment of Dedlock and the whole Dedlock clan, exclaiming

“that fellow is, and his father was, and his grandfather was, the most stiff-necked, arrogant imbecile, pig-headed numbskull, ever, by some explicable mistake of Nature, born in any station of life but a walking-stick’s!” The whole of that family are the most solemnly conceited and consummate blockheads! But it’s no matter; he should not shut up my path if he were fifty baronets melted into one and living in a hundred Chesney Wolds, one within another, like the ivory balls in a Chinese carving.”

Sir Leicester Dedlock - Image taken from page 505 of 'Bleak House ... With illustrations by H. K. Browne'
Look at those side-burns

 Illustration by Hablot Knight Browne page 505 Bleak House 1853

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