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FAST AND LOOSE.

If the Directors of any great joint-stock
commercial undertaking  — say a Railway
Companywere to get themselves made
Directors principally in virtue of some blind
superstition declaring every man of the
name of Bolter to be a man of business,
every man of the name of Jolter to
be a mathematician, and every man of the
name of Polter to possess a minute acquaintance
with the construction of locomotive
steam-engines; and if those ignorant Directors,
so managed the affairs of the body corporate,
as that the trains never started at the
right times, began at their right beginnings,
or got to their right ends, but always devoted
their steam to bringing themselves into violent
collision with one another; and if by such
means those incapable Directors destroyed
thousands of lives, wasted millions of money,
and hopelessly bewildered and conglomerated
themselves and everybody else; what would
the shareholding body say, if those brazen-faced
Directors called them together in the
midst of the wreck and ruin they had made,
and with an audacious piety addressed them
thus: " Lo, ye miserable sinners, the hand of
Providence is heavy on you! Attire yourselves
in sackcloth, throw ashes on your
heads, fast, and hear us condescend to make
discourses to you on the wrong you have
done!"

Or, if Mr. Matthew Marshall of the Bank
of England, were to be superseded by Bolter;
if the whole Bank parlour were to be cleared
for Jolter; and the engraving of bank-notes
were to be given as a snug thing to Polter;
and if Bolter, Jolter and Polter, with a
short pull and a weak pull and a pull no two
of them together, should tear the Money
Market to pieces, and rend the whole mercantile
system and credit of the country to
shreds; what kind of reception would Bolter,
Jolter and Polter get from Baring Brothers,
Rothschilds, and Lombard Street in general,
if those Incapables should cry out, " Providence
has brought you all to the Gazette.
Listen, wicked ones, and we will give you an
improving lecture on the death of the old
Lady in Threadneedle Street!"

Or, if the servants in a rich man's household
were to distribute their duties exactly as the
fancy took them; if the housemaid were to
undertake the kennel of hounds, and the
dairymaid were to mount the coachbox, and
the cook were to pounce upon the secretary-ship,
and the groom were to dress the dinner,
and the gamekeeper were to make the beds,
while the gardener gave the young ladies
lessons on the piano, and the stable-helper
took the baby out for an airing; would the
rich man, soon very poor, be much improved
in his mind when the whole incompetent
establishment, surrounding him, exclaimed.
"You have brought yourself to a pretty pass,
sir. You had better see what fasting and
humiliation will do to get you out of this. We
will trouble you to pay us, keep us, and try!"

A very fine gentleman, very daintily dressed,
once took an uncouth creature under his
protectiona wild thing, half man and half
brute. And they travelled along together.

The wild man was ignorant; but, he had
some desire for knowledge too, and at times
he even fell into strange fits of thought,
wherein he had gleams of reason and flashes
of a quick sagacity. There was also veneration
in his breast, for the Maker of all the wondrous
universe about him. It has even been supposed
that these seeds were sown within him by a
greater and wiser hand than the hand of the
very fine gentleman very daintily dressed.

It was necessary that they should get on
quickly to avoid a storm, and the first thing
that happened was, that the wild man's feet
became crippled.

Now, the very fine gentleman had made the
wild man put on a tight pair of boots which
were altogether unsuited to him, so the wild
man said:

"It's the boots."

"It's a Rebuke," said the very fine gentleman.

"A WHAT?" roared the wild man.

"It's Providence," said the very fine
gentleman.

The wild man cast his eyes on the earth
around him, and up at the sky, and then at
the very fine gentleman, and was mightily
displeased to hear that great word so readily
in the mouth of such an interpreter on such
an occasion; but, he hobbled on as well as he
could without saying a syllable, until they
had gone a very long way, and he was
hungry.

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