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HOBBIES are, in the intellectual and moral
world, what horses are supposed to be in the
material: you may judge of a man's
(intellectual or moral) wealth by the number he
affords to keep. I myself keep a stable-full
of fifty; and this definition is the apple of
the eye of one. It does not by any means
express a commonly-received opinion. Why
is that, when everybody, commonly, is so
much in the right ? It happens in this way:
one man's hobby bores all those among his
neighbours who are not so lucky as to have
its match. When people are bored, they are
unable to keep their judgments well in hand;
they form opinions without patience, and at
random; in fact, they misjudge. Thus it is
that, in this matter, except when a man
pronounces an opinion upon himself, there is no
getting at truth and justice.

It so happens that Mrs. SticklebackMrs.
Honor Stickleback, lady of Jehoiachim Z.
Stickleback, Esq., myself, much at your
serviceMrs. S. happens to have cherished, for
the last two years, the noblest pair of piebald
ponies; call them hobbies if you will. There
is nobody upon earth by whom those ponies
are understood and appreciated so completely
as by Mrs. Stickleback; and they are
maintained, let me add, wholly at her own
expense, out of her private jointure. Let any
feeling person judge how out of patience my
dear lady was, when, some months ago, the
house opposite ours, in Crotchet Place, was
taken by a foreign person, Mrs. Inderella,
who drives four cream-colouredI was going
to say mice. Since the turn-out first stood
before our window, I have had, every day,
mice for breakfast, mice for dinner, mice for
tea. Were Mrs. Stickleback the owner of
the creams, and Mrs. Inderella mistress of
the piebalds, I know who would drive
four-in-hand with passing state, and dash by the
piebalds if she overtook them on the road,
with the pride of a woman who is mistress of
their betters. Now, when the ladies meet,
each with her team in front of her, as it has
been well said by the bard

                           O gracious Muse!
What kindling motions in their breasts do fry !

And yet the ponies are good ponies, the whole
six of them.

Even so are the hobbies of our neighbours
good hobbies; a great many, no doubt, are
blind, and some are lame; none are
short-winded. But, after allowing an extreme
percentage for disease (and the diseases of
hobbies are worth studying), there remains
enough to stock the country with a sound
and wholesome breed.

Now, let me drop the material side of the
argument, which is mere figure of speech, to
become intellectual and moral. I maintain
that a man's hobbies are his spiritual
vertebrae, that they compose the back-bone and
the marrow of his character. A man with a
hobby or two, sleek and well kept, is well to
do in his mind; is to that extent, although it
may be in no other respect, mentally respectable.
A man's hobby is the point upon
which he is strong, and we respect strength.
But it is more than that. Mrs. Stickleback,
who derives her information from the lady's
maid, knows the private affairs of most people
living in our street. Let me then, profiting
by her knowledge, put my case in the form of
three or four examples.

As the attic windows and part of the roof
at number seven Crotchet Place, were blown
out into the road, only last Wednesday, that
house is at present open to the dropping of
a good deal of remark. Its master, Mr.
Priestly Bomb, is a stock-jobber; and, as we
opine, from the number of anxious men, most
of them young, who communicate their agitation
to his knocker, he lends money at interest,
and is much less warm in his heart than
in his pocket. His whole manner of life is
mean, and he looks mean: he is fat and
bald-headed, the bald expanse being all roof, none
of it wall; his skull above his eyes slopes up
to a high point in the bump of veneration
(which is large in him), so that I should be
disposed, if I might, to call him gable-headed.
He has pillows of fat under his sly little eyes,
very large ears, a massive jaw, and dewlaps.
This man is very warlike in his conversation.
Russian acquisitiveness scandalises him. The
Russian seizure of material guarantees he
regards as infamous. As X. Y. Z., he has sent
to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, calling
it conscience-money, a large balance of income
tax, for property that had not been accounted
for in former years. He pays up now to the
uttermost mite, and his hobby is to bring the