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I have a question about a passage in The Power-House by John Buchan. In Chapter 1, "Beginning of the Wild-Goose Chase", Tommy Deloraine says to Leithen, the narrator:

“This about finishes me,” he groaned. “What a juggins I am to be mouldering here! Joggleberry is the celestial limit, what they call in happier lands the pink penultimate. And the frowst on those back benches! Was there ever such a moth-eaten old museum?” "

Can you please explain the references to "Joggleberry", "celestial limit" and "pink penultimate" in this context.

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A few sentences later we read:

"I must get off for a bit or I'll bonnet Joggleberry or get up and propose a national monument to Guy Fawkes or something silly.

‘Bonnet’ is a verb meaning to crush a person’s own hat down over their eyes, from which we can deduce that ‘Joggleberry’ is a person’s name.

Kate MacDonald notes in a 1991 dissertation at University College London that:

'Celestial limit' and 'pink penultimate' are more idiosyncratic and probably belong to that brand of slang, probably American, which only lasts for a couple of years and is never used commonly enough to be listed in dictionaries of slang.

Similar idioms still in use would be to be the absolute limit and to be the living end

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Some citations for “the pink penultimate”, meaning something like “the acme, or greatest development, of some quality”: that is, of beauty in the first citation, of pomposity in the second, and of spinning a yarn in the third.

“You’re so pretty. Miss Payson! You’re four times and a half as pretty as I am!”

Clytie ventured to touch her little finger to the dent in Fancy’s upper lip. Fancy retreated a step. “My dear,” Clytie asserted, “if I had that, I’d be sure that men would be crazy for me till I was seventy years old!”

Fancy shook her head. “I guess I can’t beat that. That’s what Gay calls ‘the pink penultimate.’ And the worst of it is, I suppose it’s true! But I’ll never be seventy if I can help it.”

Gelett Burgess (1907). The Heart Line: A Drama of San Francisco, p. 484. New York: Grosset & Dunlap.

Dr. R. W. Dale nobly exhorted the theological students of Yale, U.S.A., upon their duty: “Let me remind you, gentlemen,” he said, “that your language is one of the noblest and most precious parts of that magnificent inheritance which you have received from a great ancestry. You have no more right to injure the national language than to chip a statue or to run a pen-knife through a picture in the national museum. To use words so loosely and inaccurately that their definite meaning is lost, is to commit an intellectual offence corresponding to that of removing the landmarks of an ancient estate. To prostrate noble words to base uses is as great a wrong to the community as to deface a noble public monument. … Let us resolve that we will do nothing to make Shakespeare and Spenser, and Milton and Dryden, Hooker and Howe, and Barrow and Baxter, and Addison and Bolingbroke, and Swift and Burke less intelligible to posterity than they are to ourselves.”

And then, perhaps, a Yale student turned to his neighbour in the lecture-room and said, “Gee-whiz! Wal, I reckon that is the pink penultimate!”

Anthony Deane (1913). In My Study, pp. 40–41. London: J. Nisbet.

The outward trip from Toronto occupied some three hours, and the return trip a little longer. The fun was unlimited, and there was leisure to observe that as yarners certain members of the C.M.I.† have Boccaccio backed off the map, and are in fact the pink penultimate.

Canadian Mining Journal (19 March 1920), p. 224.

† Canadian Mining Institute

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Joggleberry suggests Jogglebury Crowdey in Surtees’s Mr Sponge (1853): “a puffy, wheezy, sententious little fellow, who accompanied his parables with a snort into a large finely-plaited shirt-frill, reaching nearly up to his nose.” He’s terribly fat and short of breath. His great interest in life is carving faces to make ornamental walking sticks. Sponge imposes on him horribly and then, in the next book, Facey Romford swindles fifty pounds from him. Poor Jogglebury is a hapless chump.

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  • Hi and welcome to Literature Stack Exchange. Do you think you could also find the meaning of "celestial limit" and"pink penultimate"? That would be very helpful to the question asker. – Tsundoku Jul 4 at 17:06

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