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THERE are some children-clever little dears!-who are peculiarly apt in picking up words without fatiguing their infantine brains with the meanings which they bear. It is sufficient, in their estimation, that the syllables possess a certain striking euphony. Like the "little busy bee," that is innocently attracted with the simple music of a street-door key clinquantly applied to the wrong side of a frying-pan, the sound is all-sufficient to their ears; they seek not the sense nor derivation.
Sir Flatman Flunks was a full-grown specimen of this easily to-. be-pleased-and-gulled-genus.
At an early age,-even at that freshly-green period when the small bag-like trousers are unconscious of any other suspenders than the diminutive pea-buttons of a tiny jacket, fashioned from the same piece of broad-cloth, and forming a fitting case for the embryo man, when he was merely designated a "young gentleman, and was graduating at a spinster's establishment for the education of downy-cheeked darlings "under nine years of age," Flunks was a prodigy! "Hard words" appeared to make a most permanent impression on his soft head-his tender mind, as his indulgent governess chose to phrase it! He was, indeed, taught like a parrot and made about as much use of his attainments.
Two points, however, were indisputably gained by the happy knack he possessed of pronouncing "sesquipedalians" so trippingly: he became the envy of his schoolfellows, and astonished the maidservauts, who "vowed and declared that they were positive certain as Master Flunks would, one day, be a very great man ;" but "faller vulgi judicium," as Phædrus saith; for, as his years increased he "turned out" an uncommonly great donkey!
Most fortunate was it for Flunks that his father was born before him! This is so common an occurrence, indeed, that few men are sufficiently grateful for it; in this instance, however, priority of nativity was the salvation of Flunks,-for had the father been "nothing," the filial derivation would assuredly never have risen above par!
As it was, old Flunks, having accumulated a good round sum in the cheesemongering "line," died one day, leaving Flatman in the possession of a considerable fortune in the funds, and an excellent connection.
Being a man of substance, he was, in the course of events, elected sheriff, and presenting an address-although a man of no addresshis Majesty was "most graciously pleased to confer the honour of knighthood," &c., as the custom is. He immediately cut the cheese, and turned connoisseur-admiring everything he did not understand. He bought pebbles and pictures; and crammed artists and authors at his soirées and conversazioni,-the only substantial good that arose out of his egregious vanity. Such, reader, is the man to whom the obsequious Mr. Foxe Varnish elevates his beaver. Not to know that man is to argue yourself unknown. Why every man in every ward, from the officious street-keeper, who pokes his cane into the apple-woman's basket, to the burly alderman "with fat capon lined," knows Mr. Foxe Varnish, the picture
Behold, with what a super-suavity of manner he projects his "finely-chiselled chin" over the rippling gutter as his bright and discriminating eyes catch the languid glance of the obese Sir Flat
No industrious spider, on summer flies intent, ever peeped from his ambuscade at a blooming blue-bottle entangled in his web, with more complacency! It is impossible to look upon the clean, dapper little man, with his fair hair, and fine teeth, and flexible form, and to suppose that he ever washed those smiling features with anything but highly-perfumed "brown Windsor," or almond paste, there is such a clear, cosmetical appearance about them.
And then his language! so bland, mellifluous, and stuffed with superfine conceits,-forming a sort of Irish blarney diluted with honey-water, it is irresistible! He is, moreover, naturally so goodnatured withal, that should he even fail in persuading you to become a purchaser, a rare occurrence, there is no cloudy indication of disappointment in his handsome countenance, and he ushers you to the threshold of his shop-door with so much ceremony that it is ten to one but you repeat your visit, and-are caught at last!
In fine, in Mr. Foxe Varnish the homely proverb of "Honey catches more flies than vinegar" is beautifully illustrated.
"Good morning, Sir Flatman," said Mr. Foxe Varnish, approaching the great asinine knight with one of his most insinuating smiles,
'I hope I have the felicity of seeing Sir Flatman in excellent health?'
'Tolerable, Mr. Varnish, passablement bien, thank'e,' replied the knight, extending his hoof-his hand, I mean-to the sincere in. quirer. The gout-the podagra rather troublesome in the extremities; this pluvial congelation, too, touches my nerves!' (There had been a slight fall of hail!)
That you are well, and wear well, are two points on which your well-wishers agree in congratulating themselves,' said Varnish; for you are too valuable a man, Sir Flatman, both in the eyes of our respected corporation collectively, and the members individually, not to be watched with the most affectionate solicitude.' 'Why, Varnish,' replied Flunks, with a self-approving smile, 'I believe I may say it, without arrogating to myself too much, that “I have done the state some service."' A hackneyed quotation, which he was in the habit of daily dealing forth ever since he presented the Address, and moved a return in the Common Council of the costs and charges made by the City scavengers since the year 18-, and proposed some sweeping clauses' touching the duties and remuneration of the said important functionaries.
'Nobody can deny that,' answered Varnish. 'Had you been born a Roman (which our selfish feelings would have made us regret,) you would undoubtedly have been named dictator! Talking of Rome reminds me that I have a Carlo Dolce, which I should like to submit to your inspection. Your approval of it, Sir Flatman, will augment its value in the eyes of the cognoscenti. I have to add, that your condescension will confer an obligation on myself personally; and I know that you will honour my humble gallery,' &c.
Of course the knight put his arm within that of the agreeable Mr. Foxe Varnish, and accompanied the dealer to his shop, who smirked and nodded to all his acquaintances, both great and small, whom he happened to meet in the line of march, determined that they should see the friendly familiarity with which he was treated by the wealthy Flunks.
The room into which he bowed the knight was beautifully arranged and elegantly furnished, the glaring light of the 'vulgar unrefined day' pleasantly softened by blinds-so as to show off his merchandise to the best advantage.
Flunks flopped' himself into a cushioned chair, while his dull stupid eyes, attracted by the gilding, roved from frame to frame; and it must be confessed they were of the most approved and costly model.
'Ah! Sir Flatman, I see where your eyes are fixed,' exclaimed Varnish. That white horse is your mark!'
Sir Flatman looked in that direction for the first time. 'Exactly,' replied he.
A Wouvermans that, Sir Flatman, eh? There is no mistaking his touch, I think?' continued Varnish.
'Certainly not,' replied Flunks. 'I should aver, without any pretension to vaticination, that it is an indubitable original. There is a tone-a certain je ne sçais quoi-a keeping about his capi d'opera -his chefs-d'œuvre, that veritably proves him a master-'
'Of the horse!'
A master of the horse!' said Flunks, extremely delighted with the joke, which the other had dexterously put into his mouth.
You're so ready!' said Varnish, adroitly making him a present of the saying, which, indifferent as it was, was very valuable to a man whose stock of wit was so miserably scant.
Unlocking a case, Varnish placed it in a chair opposite to his soft and softened customer, and threw back the folding-doors with an effect.
'There!' cried he, 'that is a gem of the first water!'
'Beautiful!' exclaimed Flunks. Delectable!'
Is it not? Now, Sir Flatman, I may be permitted without exaggeration to call that a picture-a real picture. Look at the splendidly graceful arrangement of that drapery!-the unstudied simplicity of that infant's head!!-the natural and glowing tint of the Virgin's roseate cheek!!!-I have only permitted one of our first living artists to look upon it-and only to hear his raptures! He at once undertook to submit it to the committee of the National Gallery. It was a temptation; but I resisted it: I was resolved that it should adorn the gallery of some private friend. It is not often that I have the opportunity of sacrificing my interest to my pleasure. The public, Sir Flatman, would not generally have appreciated its beauties, and, as a lover of the arts, I could not-I felt that I ought not to comply. I know there are many in this city who would thank for it-besides the price-two hundred and fifty guineas-is really such a trifle.' 'Say pounds-guineas are gone by-and I'll write you a cheque,' said Flunks.
'Really, Sir Flatman, I have refused the sum already ten times," replied Varnish; 'but I am under so many onerous obligations to you, Sir Flatman, that I cannot resist. The gem is yours!' So FLUNKS BOUGHT IT!
MORAL ECONOMY OF LARGE TOWNS.
BY DR. W. C. TAYLOR.
THERE can be few objects to attract the notice of a casual and hurried visiter in a manufacturing town. Space is too valuable to allow room for architectural display; time is too important for the inhabitants to waste it in answering the inquiries and satisfying the curiosity of a stranger. Those who passed through Manchester on the coach in old times, retained in their memory a confused picture of enormous chimneys, smoking like volcanoes, steam-engines and spinning-jennies clattering in factories that looked like prisons, suggesting to an excited imagination ideas of nameless torture incessantly operating within their walls; streets of warehouses, secured by shutters and bolts, as if an enemy was expected; and crowds
hurrying along, as if the storm had commenced, and their foes were in hard pursuit. To these were usually added a murky atmosphere, a neglected pavement, and shops that seemed to present a beggarly account of empty boxes.' Though the town has of late been considerably improved both in its streets and shops, its external aspect is still far from favourable; it is ever enveloped in clouds of smoke, the din of engines is incessant, and people hurry through its streets as if their neighbours had the plague, and the delay of exchanging salutations would expose them to infection. There are no sounds of mirth around; the joyous laugh of childhood is unheard; and the very few urchins to be seen about, have a look of care and anxiety quite inconsistent with their early age. Uninviting as the externals are, there is no place so deeply interesting when its interior life is examined. It exhibits a system of social life constructed on a wholly new principle, a principle as yet vague and indefinite, but developing itself by its own spontaneous force, and daily producing results which no human foresight had anticipated.
The factory system, aggregating its thousands and tens of thousands in one narrow district, creating immense towns where, some years ago, there was not even a hamlet, disorganizing all the relations between the lords and the occupants of the soil, combining rapidity of movement with permanency of influence, is a new element of society, which cannot establish itself without greatly deranging old institutions, customs, and opinions. It is itself an innovation, and a wondrously great one; it seems like a giant who sprung fully formed from the earth into the midst of a crowd, and of course discommoded the whole assembly, while elbowing his way to the place he had resolved to occupy. This jostling of the giant is not very pleasant to feel, but it is not unamusing to witness; and therefore our readers will please to accompany us while we take a glance at his struggle in Manchester.
The first thing that strikes a stranger in Manchester is, that every person he meets is in a hurry; the next is, that he does not see one vacant face in the passing crowd. On the contrary, every countenance displays a more than ordinary share of intelligence; a decidedly stupid physiognomy could not be found in the town. Again, the range of intelligence seems to be fixed within pretty definite limits; there is no decided superiority, and there is no marked inferiority; a great genius appears to be as rare as a great fool. As the faces pass, rapidly as the shadowy forms of Banquo's glass, the impression of their intellectual sameness assumes the form of conviction, but at the same time seems to defy analysis. There remains, however, a picture in the mind of firmness and steadiness, without a single dash of enthusiasm-a spirit of determination and perseverance, unattended by excitement-and a power of ingenuity and contrivance, sharpened by being constantly exercised within narrow limits, but, for that very reason, rendered incapable of any great effort in a new direction. Many volumes have been written to explain the difference between inventive talent and creative genius: they would all be rendered unnecessary, if we could paint the face of a mechanic of Manchester.
There appears, then, to result from the factory system, judging merely from physiognomy, an intellectual principle, at once elevat. ing and levelling; and this produces sentiments of equality and in