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I AM going to ask a few questions which
frequently present themselves to my mind.
I am not going to ask them with any
expectation of getting an answer, but in the
comforting hope that I shall find some thousands
of sympathising readers, whose minds are
constantly asking similar questions.

Why does a young woman of prepossessing
appearance, glossy hair, and neat attire, taken
from any station of life and put behind the
counter of a Refreshment Room on an English
Railroad, conceive the idea that her mission
in life is to treat me with scorn ? Why does
she disdain my plaintive and respectful
solicitations for portions of pork-pie or cups of
tea? Why does she feed me like a hy├Žna?
What have I done to incur the young lady's
displeasure? Is it, that I have come there
to be refreshed ? It is strange that she
should take that ill, because her vocation
would be gone if I and my fellow-travellers
did not appear before her, suing in humility
to be allowed to lay out a little money. Yet
I never offered her any other injury. Then,
why does she wound my sensitive nature by
being so dreadfully cross to me ? She has
relations, friends, acquaintances, with whom
to quarrel. Why does she pick me out for
her natural enemy ?

When a Reviewer or other Writer has
crammed himself to choking with some
particularly abstruse piece of information,
why does he introduce it with the casual
remark, that " every schoolboy knows " it?
He didn't know it himself last week; why is
it indispensable that he should let off this
introductory cracker among his readers ? We
have a vast number of extraordinary fictions
in common use, but this fiction of the schoolboy
is the most unaccountable to me of all.
It supposes the schoolboy to know everything.
The schoolboy knows the exact distance,
to an inch, from the moon to Uranus,
The schoolboy knows every conceivable
quotation from the Greek and Latin authors.
The schoolboy is up at present, and has been
these two years, in the remotest corners of the
maps of Russia and Turkey; previously to
which display of his geographical
accomplishments he had been on the most intimate
terms with the whole of the gold regions of
Australia. If there were a run against the
monetary system of the country to-morrow,
we should find this prodigy of a schoolboy
down upon us with the deepest mysteries of
banking and the currency. We have nearly
got rid of the Irishman who stood by us so
long, and did so much public service, by
enabling the narrators of facetious anecdotes
to introduce them with "As the Irishman
said." We have quite got rid of the Frenchman
who was for many years in partnership
with him. Are we never, on any terms, to get
rid of the schoolboy ?

If the Court Circular be a sacred institution
for the edification of a free people, why
is the most abhorred villain always
invested, in right of that frightful distinction,
with a Court Circular of his own? Why am
I always to be told about the ruffian's pleasant
manners, his easy ways, his agreeable
smile, his affable talk, the profound
conviction of his innocence that he blandly wafts
into the soft bosoms of guileless lambs of
turnkeys, the orthodox air with which he comes
and goes, with his Bible and prayer-book in
his hand, along the yard, that I fervently
hope may have no outlet for him but the
gallows ? Why am I to be dosed and drenched
with these nauseous particulars, in the case of
every wretch sufficiently atrocious to become
their subject? Why am I supposed never to
know all about it beforehand, and never to
have been pelted with similar mud in my
life? Has not the whole detestable programme
been presented to me without variation, fifty
times ? Am I not familiar with every line
of it, from its not being generally known that
Sharmer was much respected in the County
of Blankshire, down to the virtuous heat of
Bilkins, Sharmer's counsel, when, in his
eloquent address, he cautions the jurymen
about laying their heads on their pillows,
and is moved to pious wrath by the wicked
predisposition of human nature to object to
the foulest murder that its faculties can
imagine? Why, why, why, must I have the
Newgate Court Circular over and over again,
as if the genuine Court Circular were not
enough to make me modestly independent,
proud, grateful, and happy?

When I overhear my friend Blackdash
inquire of my friend Asterisk whether he
knows Sir Giles Scroggins, why does Asterisk