Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

gradual removal of general folly, prejudice, and superstition. These go hand in hand together, and, where they have once seated themselves, leave a stain oa the mind thai is seldom effaced. The consoling hope among rational beings, however, is that prejudices of ail kinds are on the decline, and that new generations are daily springing up who employ themselves,with something better. These hopes are truly consoling, but, on the other hand, it is lamentable to think how slow it the progress of truth; and yet how very rapid, compared with what it was half a century ago. Only turn for example to America! Chiefly peopled in the first instance by Europeans; some going there from necessity, others from choice; the majority of them emigrating from their respective birth places in consequence of public abuses, suffering or persecution. Most of them, of course, carried with them prejudices, equally strong, but of another sort. These various prejudices, added to those which they found already existing beyond tho Atlantic, created a kind of mongrel race, as inconsistent as if a simple peasant, or plough-boy, were hastily married to. the daughter of a change-alley broker, and from tending and counting stock in the fields, sent to watch the turn of stocks in the stock market! This is something like going from the bullocks and bullock ing manners of Smithfield, to the bulls and bears at the Royal Exchange! or from the smooth-faced frequenters of the Independant meeting-house, to the bearded congregation of the. Jew's Synagogue in Duke's Place! I do not pretend to know much of America or of its inhabitants, but I do know that this part of the world is greatly superior to it in liberality and general knowledge. The Americans made a bold, brave, and successful struggle for their independence; all the world admired them, except such as were interested in a contrary event. The world believed that the Americans had a just sense of their political rights. Many of the principal men among them no doubt respected those rights; but these great men, dropping away by degrees, in the course of time their places have been filled by persons not equally wise and hence the progress of virtue has been for a time impeded. Having obtained what they deemed their political rights, how is that word right interpreted? Thus— that the American merchant has a right to take his commodities to the best market he can find, and that it would be highly improper, the greatest of wrongs, to expect him to sell a packet of tobacco for five shillings, when at a place equally convenient, he could sell it for five shillings and two-pence. The right of getting an additional two-pence is with them of more value than any of their political rights. This spirit of gain attends them often on points where least expected. I am willing to believe that the Americans, (as a nation) are as good and as moral, as any in this part of the world :—yet, in the spirit of trade, they are I think very different. It is the money they can make hy a thing, that is at all times their first care. I am aware that this is too often the case in England, but it is said that the Americans carry this spirit of trade far beyond English tradesmen. During the long continental war, the Hollanders were charged with selling gunpowder to pepper their own carcasses; so I Lave heard of an American tradesman, an Ironmonger, who absolutely sold to two noted thieves the very implements by which his shop was broken open! Nay, he had at the time the strongest reasons to suppose that they were intended for that purpose. And so it proved. He had his shop pretty well watched, yet the robbery was committed, the two thieves taken and hung. The shopkeeper boasted afterwards of having cleared an extra profit by selling the tools in the first instance, and then of having received the stolen articles back again for nothing!

I will give another instance of the spirit of moneygetting. I knew a person who for many years had been a shopkeeper and bookseller in America, and he told me that it was considered very ridiculous and highly improper for any man to think of the articles he sold further than what he cleared by selling them! Thus, lie conceived it his duty to refuse sixpence for " Piety in Pattens," if be thereby lost the taking of sevenpence for either Bigotry or Blasphemy! We will charitably suppese that this American bookseller rather too strongly pictured his own mode of trading; it may serve, however, to give some idea of the principle on which trade is conducted by many who think very highly of themselves, and of their mercantile methods of fair dealing.

Fair dealing is a law by eastern made;
A lie's allowable in way of trade!

Touching the booksellers, accept an anecdote which 1 had from the once well-known Dubois, who

was for many years the favorite of the laughterloving Gods of the London theatres. By the bye,. I am not aware that this performer has ever beenmentioned with that degree of attention and respect to which he was fully entitled. I did not know him personally, till after his career in London, when he came to me at Taunton. I found him a man of strong intellect though of slender education, scarcely more than what he had been able to pick up in his progress through the world. The story of himself, here alluded to, was this.

While he was a boy, he travelled with an old German bookseller, who was in the habit of exposing his books both old and new on a stall for sale, at the different fairs and markets he frequented. This old German Sage—this dispenser of knowledge—this lover of literature, always kept a long stick by his side while attending his stall. He was a man of great observation and of few words; but his blows were most effective I they spoke volumes! Whenever the youth Dubois took up a book, and began to read, the old man would chide him for it, and this happened not unfrequently. Gruff looks and smart raps on the head with the long stick were bestowed without ceremony. But once, when all the gruff looks and sharp raps had been more liberally dispensed than ever, and not with the effect desired, young Dubois, (no customer being present,) seized a favorite volume, sat himself down at one end of the stall and quietly began to read. The old German giving him a violent blow with his stick, thus addressed him.

[ocr errors]

"Vhy, hey day!—how now!—vat is all dis!—you ■sit down !—you read !—how oft I tell you no read? your bisness to sell, no read! you fool, you pupee, you jack-nape !—Vill you never kno better ? —never learn wise?—How offl tell you—you tarn dog!—you no look de inside de book, but de out side!—dere— de out side—dere is de price—mark de price—mark dat!—you never do good vid the book, if you no sell! you tarn pupee! never mind de read, you sell—sell! dat is de ting! dat is all you have to do! no read, no look! but sell it!" Now what this old German said about the selling of books, I believe might be said by many others, but perhaps not so emphatically. Let me once more speak of Dubois: he was a very clever, industrious man. He would work: he would either do things himself, or stand by and see them properly done by others. This is the right sort of practical talent! without it I would advise no young man to think of the stage. Without these requisites he is sure to become a burden to himself, and to prove a bad bargain to the unfortunate manager who may happen to engage him; and the first endeavour of that manager will be how to shake off in a respectable way the new incumbrance he has taken on his already over-loaded shoulders.

Here let me make a few remarks on the very name of a theatre! The calling it a play-house, is, I am afraid, the cause of great evil. It would be adviseable to drop that name altogether; and, if theatre does not please, call it not a play-house but a work-house; I am sure that epithet would be more appropriate than ]

« AnteriorContinuar »