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fig. All tropical fruits in perfection; English
vegetables of gigantic growth.

"The air is pure, ambient; the sky brilliant.
At night refreshing showers of dew descend."


MY mind is a discursive mind; a flitting,
restless, jumping mind; a mind that rambles
into such odd corners, takes such strange
flights, and leaps with such suddenness from
one subject to another, that sometimes I am
at a loss to discover where my mind has flown
to. I sit down this morning with the intention
of writing an article; and, after chasing and
dodging my mind for days, I have reduced it
to something like obedience. The result of
the victory is, that I have arranged the
programme of a paper, to be called the
History of an Article.

This article is not to be the history of
any object that ministers to our creature
comforts; for, honestly speaking, I have
little or no sympathy with manufactures.
It is a matter of indifference to me
whether a cotton lord is made of Clarke's
best sewing-thread; or Boar's Head
knitting-cotton. I would much rather witness
the drama of Punch, than be taken over
a factory and have all the intricacies of its
machinery explained to me. It is possible
that this confession of an interest in Punch
and Judy may be regarded as a symptom of
an ill-regulated (in other respects than as
being discursive) mind, seeing that it can
extract amusement from that which is
radically wrong in its teachings; for I
contend that the moral of the play exhibited at
our national perambulating theatres is utterly
bad, and calculated to vitiate the taste of the
audience. If we analyse the character of the
hero, we find he is devoid of every good
quality. It is true that, at the opening of
the play, he is represented as a boisterous,
rollicking blade, full of fun; but a few
minutes suffice to show that, under the
frolicking spirit, lies every bad passion that
can disfigure human nature. As soon as
an opportunity arises, these bad passions
manifest themselves, and Punch throws
his child out of window, murders his wife,
beats his friends, quarrels with everybody,
and when justice condemns him to
death, escapes his just punishment by
hanging Calcraft! Only once, in the whole
course of the drama does he display
anything like remorse, and that is when the ghost
appears to him; but, even the turn excited by
this unearthly visitant is of short duration,
and the play concludes with the triumph of
the unmitigated villain, who takes his leave
of the audience in a ribald song.

A French writer has cleverly pointed
out the difference that exists between our
Clowns and Punches and their continental
equivalents. He remarks severely upon
the brutal element which is so strongly
developed in our motleys, and asserts, that
their fun never arises solely from an overflow
of pure animal spirits, but springs from
a love of devilry that can only exist in a
depraved mind. The harmless mirth of the
Italian Arlechino and the French Pierrot is
very different from the mischievous fun
of the English Clown and of Punch; the two
former direct their satire against that which
is considered inimical to the interests of
the people; but the latter, with wanton
cruelty, turn into ridicule and maltreat those
who deserve our respect or appeal to our
love and sympathy. Hence, I suppose, it is
a question worth considering whether or not
the wife-beating that we hear so much of, may
be traced to the impressions made upon the
juvenile mind by Punch. I would even
go a step further, and ask if we may not
attribute the committal of graver crimes to
the same source. The Olympian games of
the Greeks; the gladiators and naumachia of
the Romans; the bull-fights of the Spanish;
the military pageants of the French, are
simply indices of the tastes of the people.
Shall I not then cite the enjoyment of Punch's
wickedness as indication of a want of healthy
moral tone in our lower orders?

I regret to be obliged to be egotistical,
and repeat most emphatically that my mind
is as unstable as running water, as fleeting
as the windsand here let me ask,
where you will find the author who is
not egotistical? Go√ęthe is the incarnation
of "Ich;" Johnson is his English prototype;
Bacon is as bad. Indeed, whether it is
shown in a preface, in a particular character
of a novel, or in pages of sickly verse, you
will still find that "I" plays a very important
part. I rise in the morning determined
to work, energetically resolved to
perform a certain duty, I breakfast with that
determination strong upon me; and here let
me observe, that breakfast with me is one of
the most delightful meals in the world. I
cannot be brought to regard it as a mere
repast for the deglutition of a certain amount
of aliment. I look upon it as a mental as
well as physical meal; as an operation to be
lingered over, and read over, and I have a
number of books that I call my breakfast-table
books, all of which I have chosen with an
eye to promoting digestion. History (except
Lord Macaulay's) and philosophy I find too
heavy. They cause me to neglect my food
until my coffee is utterly ruined and the
buttered toast tastes like damp leather or those
suckers which boys play in the streets with.
Novels, on the other hand, can be skimmed
over so rapidly that I find I consume my
edibles at equal speed, and thus give
myself a villainous indigestion. I therefore
select those books that have just so much
thought in them that the eyes can be taken
from them, and one can pleasantly reflect on
the last sentence, while you take a gentle sip
of coffee or eat a mouthful of bacon. Of