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penny per box. None are genuine unless
signed by the proprietor, John Prattles.
Agents wanted for every part of the world.
N. B. The Methusaleh Pills are carefully
made up after the Methusaleh Receipt, from
particular herbs known only to the proprietor
of this invaluable medicine. As a proof of
the efficacy and wonderful properties of the
Methusaleh Pill, Her Majesty's Government
have granted to the proprietors, to the exclusion
of all pretenders, the use of a splendid
pretending to be Methusaleh Pills without
this stamp are forgeries, and all imitation of
it is felony."

This notable prospectus was concocted in
the back parlour of Mr. Prattles's house. Mr.
Prattles had not been a printer all his life for
nothing; he had picked, up with his types,
the trick of editorship, and revised the
schoolmaster's rough-draught with skill. Mr.
Prattles then wore a paper cap and an apron.
He published his prospectus, adding now and
then new bits, to give it additional zest. At
one time it was headed


Another, the prospectus began with


In a few years Mr. Prattles was a man of
property. In time he was even able to sneer
at Professor Smith, with his tool, my Lord

When some foolish old man, in a remote
rural district, died at an advanced age, public
attention was particularly called to Prattles's
patent, by a statement on the part of the
firm, that the instance of longevity in question
was undoubtedly the effect of the Methusaleh
receipt. Prattles pocketed his shillings, and
smiled at the world: he laughed and won.
To make all square, as far as possible, he even
went to the length of eating a few charity
dinners, and subscribing a few pounds in aid
of hospital and other funds.

Prattles's Pills sold prodigiously. Whenever
a doubt was expressed respecting their
efficacy, it was silenced by reference to the
sanction of Her Majesty's Government, whose
mark picturesquely adorned each box, to
prove the genuineness of the Methusaleh
Pills; just as plate and jewellery are stamped
by the assay authorities to show the standard
excellence of the gold or silver. Publicly,
Mr. Prattles complained that the Government
charged him threehalfpence per
impression, for these " Hall Marks;" privately,
he whispered that to them he owed his

Like all those who have much, Mr. Prattles
wanted more. After he had exported millions
of his Methusaleh Pills to every corner of the
Queen's Colonial dominions, he attempted to
introduce them into foreign medicine markets.

To his chagrin, he found that in no other country
in the world
but in these dominions (except
the United States of America) were articles
of that description allowed to be vended
much less are they sanctioned for the sake of a
paltry revenue. On the contrary, individuals,
Mr. Prattles learnt, who were discovered selling
such things on the Continent, are severely
punished; even newspapers who advertise
them, are fined. Although he met with native
patent medicines during his travels on the
Continent, yet they are real remedies; having
all been submitted to a Board of Government
Officers distinguished for their proficiency
in pharmacy and medicine, who decide
whether the non-professional public can be
safely trusted with them or not. Mr. Prattles,
however, made a brilliant fortune by his
gullible countrymen.


I AM a Dutchman. My father, Mr. Lastman
van Ploos was, for many years, one of
the principal writing-masters in Amsterdam.
He taught ladies and gentlemen, as well as
lawyers' clerks, with much credit to himself,
and advantage to them. But the class among
whom he was considered to be the most expert
and successful, was that of the merchants' and
traders' apprentices, whom he taught to write
a free, bold, rapid, legible hand. Some few
were not so good, of course; and no two were
exactly alike; I speak, however, of the great
balance in his favour. The most part of those
who had learned to write of Mr. Lastman van
Ploos could be known by their hands, which
were accounted the most excellent, for good,
quick writing and easy reading, in all Amsterdam.

There was a large family of us. I am afraid
to say how many brothers and sisters I had,
especially sisters; but all of them were taught
writing by my father, and though some wrote
better than others, the whole family of the
van Plooses wrote good hands with one
exception. That melancholy one, was I.
What pain it was to my father to receive the
letters I wrote to him! Yet it was not his
fault; for he did not teach me.

I will explain how this was. A few words
will show why my writing did not, and to
this day does not, deserve to be called a
"hand," but rather a clawand a broken
claw, too, sometimes.

My father having made a considerable sum
by his lessons in writing, entered into a small
trade in pipes and tobacco. He was so
successful in this that he soon became a
merchant; abandoned pens and paper for
meerschaums and kanaster; and determined
that one of his sons should be educated in
England, and become his agent there as soon
as he was old enough for so important an
office. I was the son selected for this
purpose, and at the age of eight I was consigned,
together with a large stock of Dutch pipes, to

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