+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

into port, the steamer grounded on the bar
at the haven's mouth. The breakers were
rough, and the cook took fright. He was a
good swimmer; so he jumped into the waves
to reach the shore. But he had not dreamt
of leaving his beloved coppers behind.
Before taking his final plunge, as it proved, he
had strapped his bagful of pence and halfpence
safe round his neck. Of course he
went to the bottom, like a dog condemned to
watery grave, and remained there till the
crew had time to fish him up, after they had
got themselves and the passengers out of
danger, which they did. Now, if Cookey's
wealth had been invested in figurines, he
would have escaped with a ducking and a
mouthful of brine. A glass of hot brandy
and water applied to his own inside, and a
little fresh gum to the back of his figurines,
would have made all right and straight

As to the chance of being lost, figurines
are just as safe as gold five-franc pieces, silver
twenty-centime pieces, and copper centimes
themselves. Such a consideration as that
ought not to hinder a useful introduction.
If you help a people to a handy representative
of value, it is their business to take care
of the monetary symbol; and they will be
sure to do it, according as their means and
position render its preservation of greater or
less importance to them. Diamonds, pearls,
rubies and emeralds might easily be mislaid
and muddled away by persons who set no
store by them; but we do not pick them up,
like dropped pins, as we walk along the

Timid persons are sore afraid that a small
currency of French figurines, for Algerian
circulation, would be the creation of
assignats, or notes whose value is represented
by nothing; but the objection is neither valid
nor true. The government would not pay in
postage-stamps, it would only be making use
of them for the purposes of odd coppers.
Moreover, they can instantly be converted
into money's worth, namely, work done in
the shape of letter-carrying to any possible
amount. Figurines have no more need to
be themselves of material value than have
shares in canals and railways, or season-
tickets to the Crystal Palace. But even with
the adoption of postage-stamps as current
coin, on the southern shores of the Mediterranean,
an admirable opportunity still
presents itself of getting rid of incongruous
small coins. A small stamp, or mint-mark,
like that which the English, impressed on
the Spanish colonati dollar, would serve
to give authority and uniformity to foreign
and heterogeneous metal counters. Victoria's
or Napoleon's profile may penetrate
into regions of Central Africa, where they
will be rival idols to the long-worshipped
fetishes, and will shake the altars of bloody
Mumbo Jumbo himself. A continent that
could swallow Europe several times over, is
furiously advertising, in urgent and even
imperative placards, "Wanted, a Copper


IF thou, in life's chill thunder-rain,
Poor heart,
Be caught and drench'd,
So that the fire
Of thy so living faith all smoulder'd is and quench'd;
Yet pause before thou dost complain,
Dear heart, and straight inquire
If thou
Didst not some other while disdain
Shelter ere now.

But, if thou suffer'd art to bask,
Dear heart
In life's full sun,
Nor need to swerve
From the true path of faith and duty won;
Then look into thyself, and ask,
True heart, if thou deserve
Such bliss?
If not, beware life's hardest task
To take amiss.


IT had been too much the custom to look
on James the First as a mere buffoon. Sir
Walter Scott, with the chivalrous feeling of
a cavalier, came to his rescue, and elevated
him to the dignity of a pedant. He endowed
him with good humour, wit, and the easy
familiarity which makes moriarchs and great
men so popular. Then came other inquirers,
and rummaged amidst the records of
contemporary sycophancy, and found sermons
declaring him to be a British Solomon, and
dedications of learned books pronouncing him
to be the best of scholars and most elegant of
writers. He was evidently on the rise. Had
we been mistaken all this time? and was he
indeed the wise and just and accomplished
prince, whom court chaplains could only
parallel in the line of Hebrew kings? His
leafy honours were blushing thick about
him, till one day comes a frost, a biting frost.
A certain laborious lawyer, by name Mr.
Pitcairn, ransacks all the legal proceedings
of his reign, gives transcripts of trials, the
very words of the accusations, and the
sentences of the jury; and the man stands
confest the most bloodthirsty, greedy, and
contemptible of all recorded kings. How a
monster of such cruelty could be laughed at,
however absurd his manner and appearance;
how a mountebank so grotesque could be
feared, however vindictive and tyrannical, is
one of the problems which carry us back to
the times of Nero, when senate and people
applauded his wretched performances on the
flute, and trembled at the slightest movement
of his hand. It was again possible to fear
and to despise at the same time.

We will cull a few examples of the mingled