Mrs. Deacon was a philanthropist, according to the modern school of philanthropy. She patronised slow and lingering inflictions.
William Thackeray (probably) - Elizabeth Brownrigge (1832)
What could he mean? Was Thackeray predicting the rise of Harriet Harman? Being one herself, Hattie certainly knows all about slow and lingering inflictions.
With the intellect of a dishcloth and the charming tenacity of a... what comes next? One hesitates to use the phrase tenacity of a mantrap in case of distasteful misunderstandings. Unlikely I know, but there we are. In a superficial world one is obliged to be superficially polite.
What Hattie knows, as all successfully dim people know, is the value of hanging on to any opportunity like a starving alligator until brighter and more principled folk have given up and gone home for a cup of tea, or more probably something stronger.
I’m sure a tiresome manner is a great help here. It must be a distinct advantage if your opponents are wearied at the mere sight of you, when your presence is widely seen as akin to a near-death experience.
The other thing Hattie knows is how to leap nimbly aboard any passing bandwagon while creating the impression of having been there at its inception. How she does it is a mystery even Machiavelli would have admired.
The trouble is, people of Hattie’s persuasion really are there all the time, but maybe that is an illusion too. The Hatties of this world always manage to come up with nothing to say and always manage to say it at some length. It creates the illusion that there never was and never could have been a pre-Hattie epoch.