London, Volume 5Knight, Charles
Among what may be called the open-air Exhibitions of London--the collections of works of art gratuitously exposed to public view--there are none more interesting than the
The windows of the printshops-especially of those in which caricatures are exhibited--have great attractions, doubtless: but there is a grandeur and boldness in the of the stations, which completely eclipses them. The engravings in the printshop windows have contracted a good deal of that mincing elaborateness of finish which characterizes what may be called the Annuals' School of Art; those which we see at the stations, on the contrary, have all the boldness, if not much of the imagination and artistical skill of Salvator Rosa, and may compete the palm in roughness, at least, with the Elgin Marbles in their present weather-worn condition.
The stations of the External Paper-hangers are numerous, but rather ephemeral in their existence, and migratory in their propensities. It requires no great previous preparation, or expenditure of capital to establish . Any dead wall, or any casing of boards around a public monument or public dwelling in the process of erection, on which the cabalistic words
have not been traced, may be, without more ado converted into a place of exhibition. And the assiduity with which the
of the great metropolis adorn the brick or wooden structure with a fresh supply of artistical gems every morning is amazing.
The boarded fence at the top of the stairs leading down to the steam-boat station at the north-end of , the dead wall beside the English Opera House in North , the houses condemned to have the
driven through where abuts upon ,
| the enclosure round the Nelson's Monument in , the enclosure of the space on the west side of , where the Junior United Service Club House is about to be erected, are at present the most fashionable and conspicuous of these exhibitions at the |
The purlieus of the new are most in vogue in the City, but the rapid progress of the buildings threatens ere long to force the exhibiters to seek a new locality.
The attractive character of the objects exhibited at these places sufficiently accounts for the crowds of lounging amateurs which may at almost every hour of the day be found congregated around them. There are colossal specimens of typography, in juxtaposition with which the puny letters of our pages would look like a snug citizen's box placed beside the pyramids of Egypt. There are rainbow-hued placards, vying in gorgeous extravagance of colour with Turner's last new picture. There are tables of contents of all the weekly newspapers, often more piquant and alluring than the actual newspapers themselves, these annunciatory placards not unfrequently bearing the same relation to the journals that the tempting skins of Dead-Sea fruits have been said to bear to their dry, choking substance: or, to adopt a more domestic simile, that the portraits outside of wild-beast caravans do to the beasts within. Then there are pictures of pens, gigantic as the plumes in the casque of the Castle of Otranto, held in hands as huge as that which was seen on the banisters of the said castle; spectacles of enormous size, fit to grace the eyes of an ogre ; Irishmen dancing under the influence of Guinness's Dublin Stout or Beamish's Cork Particular; ladies in riding habits and gentlemen in walking dresses of incredible cheapness; prize oxen, whose very appearance is enough to satiate the appetite for ever. Lastly, there are
lettered and hieroglyphical, and it is hard to say which is the most enticing. of the former tells us that
has just returned from America, and will
alternately at Theatre and Crosby Hall
This announcement, by the association of ideas, reminds that St. Valentine's is just past, and Byron's
is still in existence. But the Pictorial Bills o' the Play bring before our startled eyes a
in the shape of man shooting another on the quarter-deck of a vessel in flames, off the coast of Van Diemen's Land, with emigrants and convicts of all shapes and sizes crowded on the shore; or the grand fight between grenadiers and Jacobite conspirators, in the
caught on his own scaffold; or a view of the
as it may be seen nightly at the Queen's Theatre, with Lady Sale at the top of it brandishing a pistol in either hand, beneath the cocked and levelled terrors of which a row of turbaned Orientals kneel on either side of the heroine. And here we may pause to remark, how hopeful must be the attempt to extract the true history of ancient Greece out of its epic poets and dramatists, when modern playwrights are seen. to take such liberties with the veracious chronicles of contemporary newspapers.
It becomes philosophical historians to penetrate beneath the mere shows and external surfaces of things. The works of Phidias and Michael Angelo were not simply meant to be pleasing to look upon--they were intended to be agents in exciting and keeping up devotional feelings. And in like manner the gaudy ornaments with which our External Paper-hangers adorn their stations have a
|utility of their own, and are meant (this is noted for the information of posterity, for the living generation know it well enough) to serve the purposes of advertising for the interests of individuals, as well as of amusing the public at large.|
A strange chapter in the history of man might be written on the subject of Advertisements. They became necessary as soon as any tribe became numerous enough for any member of it to be hid in a crowd. The heralds of whom we read in Homer were the
and in remote country towns the class still exists in the shape of town drummers and town bellmen, employed to proclaim orally to the citizens all impending auctions, and many perpetrated larcenies, with losings and findings of every possible category. Manuscript placards seem to have been next in order: some fossilized specimens of them have been preserved on the walls of Pompeii, under the showers of moistened ashes with which that town was potted for the inspection of posterity. Of this system of advertising existing samples may occasionally be seen in rural districts, where manuscript announcements of hay crops for sale and farms to let are from time to time stuck up on the gates of the churchyard; or even in the suburbs of the metropolis, in the guise of exhortations to purchase
or try somebody's
The invention of printing naturally caused printed placards and posting bills in a great measure to supersede the written ones; with the increased circulation of newspapers the practice gained ground of making them the velhicle of advertisements; and finally all sorts of periodicals, and even books published once for all, have been made to carry along with them a prefix or an appendix of these useful announcements.
With every increase in the multiplicity of industrial avocations, and in the density of population, increases the necessity of devising new vehicles of advertisements, and alluring forms for them. In order to live, a man must get employment; in order to get employment, his existence and his talents must be known; and, in proportion to the numbers by whom he is surrounded must be his efforts to distinguish himself among the crowd. In a company of half-a-dozen, the man who is an inch taller than his fellows is distinguished by this slight difference;but, in a congregation of , it requires the stature of the Irish giant to make a man conspicuous. It might easily be imagined, therefore, even though the proofs were not before our eyes, to what a degree of refined perfection the art of advertising has been carried in our crammed and busy London.
There are advertisements direct and indirect, explicit and by innuendo; there is the newspaper advertisement, the placard, and the hand-bill; there is the advertisement literary and the advertisement pictorial; there is the advertisement in the form of a review or of a newspaper paragraph; there is the advertisement (most frequently of some milliner, or tailor, or jeweller, or confectioner) lurking in the pages of a fashionable novel. Some people write books merely to let the world in general, or at least those who have official appointments to bestow, know that they are there, and, in trading phrase,
Nay, some there are who, by constantly forcing their personal presence on public notice, convert themselves into ambulatory placards, making their lives, not what the sentimentalist calls
but incessantly repeated and wearisome advertisement.
It would be equally futile and tedious to attempt to enumerate and classify all the vehicles of advertisements, and all the forms which advertisements assume in London in the present high and palmy state of the art of advertising. It will suffice to run over a few of the most striking and characteristic in a cursory manner. The appearance of the external paper-hangers' stations has already been described. The external paper-hangers themselves are a peculiar race; well known by sight from their fustian jackets with immense pockets, their tin paste-boxes suspended by a strap, their placard-pouches, their thin rods of office, with cross-staff at the extremity, formed to join into each other and extend to a length capable of reaching the loftiest elevations at which their posting-bills are legible. A corporate body they are, with consuetudinary bye-laws of their own, which have given rise to frequent litigations in the police courts. The sage judges of these tribunals have found ere now the title of an external paperhanger to his station as puzzling as that of a sweeper to his crossing. Then there seems to be a kind of apprenticeship known amongst them, though, from several recent cases at , there is room to doubt whether the rights and duties of master and 'prentice have hitherto been defined with sufficient precision. The period for which a placard must be exposed to public view before it is lawful to cover it over with a new is a nice question, but seems settled with tolerable certainty. And, to the honour of London external paper-hangers be it said, that there is rarely found (even at the exciting period of an election) among them that disregard of professional etiquette, or rather honour, which leads the mere bill-sticker of the provinces to cover over the posting-bills of a rival before the latter have well dried on the wall. Great judgment is required, and its possession probably is the best mark of distinction between the real artist and the mere mechanical external paper-hanger, in selecting the proper exposures (to borrow a phrase from horticulture) for bills. Some there are whose broad and popular character laughs out with most felicitous effect from the most conspicuous points-others, calculated for a sort of private publicity, ought to be affixed in out-of-the-way nooks and corners, retired but not unseen, provoking curiosity the more from the very circumstance of their being only half seen, each a semi-reducta Venus. Tne profession of an external paper-hanger, it will be seen, requires intellect as well as taste--it is rather superior to that of an upholsterer, and rather inferior to that of an artist: in regard to the degree of tact and talent required to exercise it with effect, the profession is as nearly as possible on a level with the Hanging Committee of the Royal Academy, and the spirit which animates the bodies seems as similar as their occupations.
Another class of advertising agents is more completely distinct from the external paper-hangers than cursory observers would suppose--the bill-distributers. The point of precedence is not very satisfactorily adjusted between the sets of functionaries. The bill-sticker (we beg pardon for using the almost obsolete and less euphonious name, but really its new substitute is too lengthy), with his tin paste-box and wallet of placards, has a more bulky presence-occupies a larger space in the world's eye-and the official appearance of his bunch of rods adds to the illusion. He is apt to swagger on the strength of this when he passes the mere bill-distributer. On the other hand, there can be no doubt that the bill-distributer regards his calling as more private, less ostentatious--in short,
| more gentlemanlike than that of the bill-sticker. |
said an eminent member of the profession, with whom we had once the honour to argue the question,
In short (for his harangue was somewhat of the longest), it was clear our friend conceived his profession to stand in the same relation to that of a bill-sticker that the butler out of livery does to the footman in it. And, in corroboration of his views, it must be admitted that there is an air of faded gentility about many of the bill-distributers of the metropolis. There is of them in particular, whose most frequent station is in front of , whose whole outward man and manner resemble so closely those of a popular member of Parliament--the same flourishing whiskers, the same gracious bend of his slim person-that, in , could fancy the bill-distributer had just emerged into better circumstances; or, in , that the bill-framer had met with a reverse of fortune. It may be observed here that bill-distributers may be classified as permanent and occasional. The permanent are those who, like the gentleman last alluded to, have a station to which they repair day after day: the occasional are those who, on the occurrence of a public meeting at Exeter Hall, or on a court-day at the , or any similar occasions when men congregate in numbers, are placed at the door with hand-bills-most frequently advertisements of unsaleable periodicals--to stuff them into the hands of all who enter.
Peripatetic placards are comparatively a recent invention. The form they assumed was that of a standard-bearer, with his placard extended like the Roman vexillum at the top of a long pole. Next came a heraldic anomaly, with placards hanging down before and behind like a herald's tabard: Boz has somewhere likened this phenomenon to a sandwich--a piece of human flesh between slices of pasteboard. When these innovations had ceased to be novelties, and, consequently, to attract observation, some brilliant genius conceived the idea of reviving their declining powers by the simple process of multiplication. This was no more than applying to the streets a principle which had already succeeded on the stage. An eminent playwright--the story is some years old-finding a widow and orphan had proved highly effective in the tragedy of a rival dramatist, improved upon the hint by introducing a widow with orphans, but was trumped in turn by a , who introduced a widower with small motherless children. The multiplication of pole-bearers answered admirably for a time, but it also has been rather too frequently repeated. Of late the practice has, in a great measure, been restricted to a weekly newspaper of enormous size and enormous circulation, which seems to have discovered that the public could only be made aware of the great number of copies it purchased by this mode of chronicling the intelligence.
To peripatetic placards succeeded the vehicular. The of these were simple enough-almost as rude as the cart of Thespis could well be supposed to be. A last relic of this simple generation still performs its circuits, warning, in homely and affectionate fashion,
at an establishment where they are sure to get it cheap and good. Alas, in the ancient time, when we were married, there were no
| such kind advisers to save young folks from being taken in in this important article of domestic economy! The attempt at something finer than the lumbering machines alluded to was a colossal hat, mounted upon springs like a gig (that badge of the |
), which may still be remembered-perhaps
|still be seen-dashing down at the heels of a spirited horse, with the hatmaker's name in large letters on the outside, whereas small human hats have in general only the hat wearer's name in small letters on the inside. Then came an undescribable column mounted, like the tower of Juggernaut, upon the body of a car--a hybrid between an Egyptian obelisk and the ball-surmounted column of an English country-gentleman's gate. It bore an inscription in honour of |
and their cheapness. The rude structure of boards stuck round with placards has of late given way to natty vans, varnished like coaches, and decorated with emblematic paintings. The of these that met our eye had emblazoned on its stern an orange sky bedropped with Cupids or cherubs, and beneath the roseate festoon of these tiny combinations of human heads and duck-wings an energetic Fame puffing lustily at a trumpet. Below this allegorical device was attached--on the occasion when we had the honour to make the acquaintance of this vehicle--a placard displaying in large letters the name of
There was an apotheosis! The luxury of vehicular advertisements continues to increase with a steady rapidity that might appal the soul of an admirer of sumptuary laws. No further gone than last week did we encounter a structure not unlike the iron monument reared in the neighbourhood of Berlin to the memory of the heroes of the war of independence. It was the same complication of arched Gothic niches and pinnacles; but in the niches, instead of the effigies of mailed warriors, stood stuffed-out dresses, such as are worn by the fashionables of the day. The figures were life-like in every respect, except that all of them wanted heads. By some internal clock-work the structure was made to revolve on its axis as the car on which it was erected whirled along. It was a masterpiece of incongruity-blending in its forms' Gothic romance with modern tailorism; in its suggestive associations the proud monument reared by a nation to its deliverers from foreign tyranny, with
|the processions of victims of the guillotine in the maddest moment of France's blood-drunken revolution. The genius of Absurdity presided over the concoction, and hailed it as worthy to be called her own , and as the of the efforts of human insignificance to attract notice in a crowd.|
The advertisements to which we have hitherto been referring only encounter the Londoner when he ventures out into the streets. They jostle him in the crowd, as any other casual stranger might do. They are at best mere chance acquaintances: even
among them do not intrude upon our domestic privacy. When we shut our street-doors we shut them out. But there is a class of advertisements which follow us to our homes-sit beside us in our easy chairs-whisper to us at the breakfast-table--are regular and cherished visitants--the advertisements which crowd the columns of a newspaper. Newspaper advertisements are to newspaper news what autobiography is to the narrative of a man's life told by another. The paragraphs tell us about men's sayings and doings: the advertisements their sayings and doings. There is a dramatic interest about the advertising columns which belongs to no other department of a newspaper. They tell us what men are busy about, how they feel, what they think, what they want. As we con them over in the pages of the or
we have the whole busy ant-hill of London life exposed to our view. The journals we have named do more for us, without asking us to leave the fireside, than the Devil on Sticks could do for Don Cleofas after he had whisked him up to the steeple, and without the trouble of untiling all the houses
It is not to matters of business alone, as the amateur in advertisements well knows, that these announcements are confined. Many of them have such a suggestive mystery about them, that they almost deserve a place in the
In corroboration of this we take up a file of the
and open at random, turning to the top of the column of the page, the locality most affected by this class. There is an imploring pathos about the very that meets our eyes, that might suggest matter for at least chapters of a modern novel:--
Still more heart-rending are the images conjured up by the address upon which we stumble next:--
,The. next strikes the note of generous enthusiasm :--
The superhuman virtue which could resist the temptation to pocket called for no less. What next? A laconic and perfectly intelligible hint:--
Would that all our duns would adopt this delicate method of reminding us of their claims. All the world knows what gentleman means; but perhaps few are aware that gentleman visited London in the year of grace (for from the records of that year are we now culling) :--
The next is of a gayer cast; it may have been an advertisement of Tittlebat Titmouse, Esq., in his jolly days:--
This comes of young gentlemen's larking, and sitting late at the Cider Cellar, which, by the way, is a cellar no longer, having been promoted to the ground floor. ! here comes emphasis and delicate embarrassment enough for whole volumes :--
How easily might a practised story-composer manufacture a domestic tale out of these materials, gleaned in a cursory glance of a few minutes! He might paint, with Dutch fidelity, the bitter as causeless squabbles of relatives; might intersperse the graver chapters with pictures of life about town, as witnessed by the hero of the
in his nocturnal perambulations; and what a splendid heroine, ready-made to his hand, in the fair who could inspire the prose Pindaric just quoted! It seems to have become a received law that there must be some love in a novel, and even this we may find in the rich mine we are now excavating; for in these days of publicity and gigantic combinations, even has been enlisted under the banners of Cupid, and made occasionally the means
We open upon chance; and lo! at the head of the aforesaid column of the page-
The song says-
| Now this was very natural, for in those days there were no newspapers. But had then existed, the woeful lady of the ballad need not have been reduced to unavailing hand-wringing: she would immediately have inserted, in the advertising columns of his newspaper- |
Every morning daily, as he took his breakfast, would he be reminded of his offence. Afraid to touch the harassing monitor, his matutinal meal would lose more than half its relish. No place of refuge could he fly to where the wailings of his mistress could not follow him. They would be heard in the coffee-room, they would penetrate even into the asylum of the club: A spell would be upon him, rendering life miserable till he knelt for mercy at the feet of his mistress again. The fair dames of romance could only stab, poison, or betake themselves to sorcery, but our forlorn ones can advertise their lovers as
The following advertisement, which appeared in the
of the present year, not long after St. Valentine's, may also have reference to the tender passion; the hero of it might serve for the loutish lover so frequently introduced as a foil to the serious and elegant inamorato of a tale:
The rhyme is somewhat peculiar. The mystery of this advertisement is easily solved. The Police Reports noticed, a few days before its publication, that a gentleman had appeared at of the offices in high dudgeon because, on applying at the Post Office to have the postage of a Valentine returned, he was politely informed,
Doubtless, the communication which was to be in its result
was a mere bait to catch the offender who had mulcted the angry gentleman in twopence; and if the sweet youth was caught, it needs no spirit of divination to tell that assuredly he tasted of cudgel.
Matrimonial advertisements are at a discount, but a class which still retain a of matrimonial speculation continue to haunt the newspapers. Here is a specimen:
It is a buxom widow, who wishes to secure a good house over her head, with a chance of becoming its mistress. If her appearence please the honest man who accepts her services, he had best go to church with her at once, for
Perhaps, however, he would prefer to mate himself with the
in the next column, who is
| still, a female |
Yet something more than being clever in millinery and dress-making is sometimes thought necessary to qualify for the charge of children; so perhaps the widower might prefer sending his daughters to the innumerable admirable seminaries of education where young ladies are taught-
and where, in addition to all this cramming,
Our British fair do not lavish all their attentions on the other sex--they have some sympathy left for their own:--
whether be able to use it or not. The benevolent and disinterested attention to the comfort of utter strangers, implied in the advertisement of the ladies under consideration, is not confined to the breasts of the softer sex. Here is a male philanthropist, who, unable to find occupants enough for his roomy benevolence, steps from the circle of his acquaintance into the regions of the unknown, and volunteers his services to all and any persons:--
Indeed, in these days, when, according to some statesmen, the whole country is labouring under a plethora of capital, it is astonishing to see how many humane individuals advertise their services to bleed the patients.
All classes of readers find advertisements suited to their different tastes. To literary men, aldermen, and other sedentary and masticating characters, of a dyspeptical tendency, the medical advertisements are irresistible. learned practitioner proclaims-
Another,,borrowing a metaphor from the worshipful fraternity of bum-bailiffs, talks of
may be such in reality as well in name; but
are certainly a passport to immortality, for the learned vender of them enumerates among his active and influential patrons several whom the ill-informed public had long numbered with the dead. Young men turn with interest to the advertisements of the theatres and other places of public entertainment: these are generally well classified, but to this praise there is exception. An ingenious clergyman who takes for his texts--not passages from the Scriptures, but--the most recent topics of the day, and preaches upon the themes of journals in a style quite as entertaining, duly advertizes in the course of each week the topics he is to discuss on the following Sunday. It is rather hard upon this gentleman that
| neither the nor the |
will place his advertisements among those which immediately precede the
--that being evidently their proper place, say between the announcement of the
of the Polytechnic exhibition, and that of the Zoological collection at the English Opera House. On a theme so copious might run on for ever: but, before drawing bridle, let us, at least, give immortality to an advertisement which must speak trumpet-tongued to every warlike and patriotic soul:--
What a crow from the Poultry! What a huge turkeycock gobble! This is
on a magnificent scale, set to guard kingdoms instead of cabbage-gardens. The terrific emanation shakes all our nerves, and forces us to seek refuge from the stormy passions of the present, amid the silence and repose of the dead and buried past.
Not, however, before we have paid a hasty but heart-felt tribute to the greatest master of the advertising art in ancient or modern times--the illustrious George Robins. We are obliged to stick him in here, because, as is generally the case with original genius, he fits into none of our categories. His advertisements are calculated alike for the posting-bill, the distributary bill, and the newspaper, and look equally well in all. Typographical they are, and yet the types assume, in them, a pictorial character. No man ever made his letters speak like George Robins. His style is his own: to speak in the language of the turf, could imagine he had been
He has carried the eloquence of advertising far beyond all his predecessors. And, as was the case with his great precursors in eloquence, Demosthenes.and Chatham, his
has raised him to great charges--to be Chancellor of to the renters, and founder of a colony at the , the annals of which. he is writing in his own advertisements.
The art and science of advertising even in London did not reach the state of perfection in which we find it all at once. Enough has been said to show that even the young among the present generation may have noted a progressive improvement. But our forefathers, though not quite equal to us, were, after all, pretty fellows in their way; they understood something about advertising too, as we shall soon be able to convince our readers. The perishable placards and posting-bills of the ancients are gone--they have perished, like the frescoes of Leonardo da Vinci-but the domesticated advertisements of the newspaper have been stored up in libraries for the inspection of the curious. There are at this moment lying on our table some stray journals and Gazettes of the good days of Queen Anne and the Georges, and a complete set of the
in the folio half-sheets in which it appeared, with all the real advertisements--we do not mean Steele's parodies upon them; and, examining those archives carefully, we are sometimes almost tempted to give the palm to the advertisers of that remote era. The art of advertising is perhaps in our days more
|universally known and practised--there are no such crude, unlicked lumps of advertisements as there were in A.D. ; but, again, there is scarcely the same racy originality. The advertisers of those days were the Shalisperes of this department of literature: those of the present time can rarely be estimated above the contributors to the annuals.|
! There are plenty of wealthy and titled dames in our day who like to see their benevolence blazoned abroad by the advertised lists of subscribers to charities: but, apart from the spice of romance in its story, the following advertisement by the Duchess of Buckingham, in , combining a skilful blazonry of her own humanity with a caution against over-drawing on her bank of benevolence, throws their timid, indirect self-praise at -hand entirely into the shade:--
These were the days in which
might have been read.
Even the reverend orator who advertises that the newest and most fashionable topics are discussed every Sunday from his pulpit had a prototype in those days, and of much more daring genius--the Reverend Orator Henley. Here is of that grave divine's announcements for :--
The advertisement of , is still more daringly eccentric:--
Medical quackery was in full blossom at the beginning of last century. In we are informed :--
This excellently graduated tariff of charges might be recommended to the consideration of the faculty at large. Dr. Herwig's announcement is more artistically put together than Dr. Pechey's:--
Lest, however, the superiority of Dr. Herwig in the science of humbug should be attributed to his foreign birth, we quote from the advertisements in the
to , , the advertisement of an indigenous quack:--
This class of practitioners employed largely the services of the industrious fraternity of bill-distributers--as, indeed, they are still their principal patrons. Malcolm, in
has preserved rather an ingenious bill which men were engaged to thrust into the hands of passengers :--
Some of the nostrums of these gentlemen must have been rather agreeable to the taste. The following appears frequently in the
Still more toothsome must have been the
of Mr. Baker, bookseller, at Mercer's Chapel,
but, zeal for the public, and the diffusion of useful knowledge, stimulated Mr. Baker, the bookseller, to
As to cosmetics and perfumes, the advertising columns of the newspapers of Queen Anne's reign bloom with immortal youth, and are redolent of
Unchanged, unchangeable is quackery of all sorts. But here is an advertisement from the
(), which, like the Duchess of Buckingham's foundling, carries us back into a state of society which has passed away:--
Perhaps the most curious feature of the advertising columns of the
| the immense number of private lotteries, announced under the convenient name of sales, in the latter part of . Dipping into |
upon chance, we find in the number for -:--
This is rather below than above the average quantity of such advertisements in a number of the
about that time. The temptations held out to gamblers in this small way were varied in the extreme. advertisement
Another runs thus:--
The price of tickets for
was each. Mr. William Morris, mentioned above, risked for his tickets
At Mrs. Mortly's , at the Green Canisters, on the pavement in , were to be had
These were the
but for persons of less ample purses there were
for which the tickets cost ls., , , and even as low as
These disguised gambling-houses germinated and multiplied in every court and blind alley of London, and the prices of the tickets were adapted to the pockets of all classes, from the duchess to the. cinder-wench, as the temptations were also suited to the tastes of each. This was the great school of
in which the citizens of the metropolis of Great Britain trained themselves to act worthily the parts they performed in the years of the Great South Sea Bubble, that colossal specimen of self-swindling by a nation, compared with which our paltry modern attempts-our Poyais kingdoms, Peruvian mining-companies, joint-stock companies, of all shapes, colours, and sizes, dwarf and dwindle into insignificance.
This plan of getting rid of stale goods with profit is not yet altogether obsolete. The raffles for watches, old teapots, guns, and telescopes, which take place, from time to time, in remote and obscure country-towns, to the inconceivable excitement of their listless inhabitants, are the lingering antiquated fashions which were once supreme mode and bon-ton in the metropolis. Nay, the thing seems to be threatening to raise its head once more in London, and with a delicious hypocrisy, under the pretext of patronising and improving British art. The history of this
is brief. In Scotland--where the genius of economy is rampant, and also the love of patronising, a number of amateurs have for some years been in the habit of clubbing to buy pictures at the Edinburgh exhibitions, and dividing the spoil by lot. An imitative association was set on foot here, either by picture-fanciers who had a mind to get pictures, or by artists who wished to get their unsaleable stock out of their studios--no matter which. So far these associations were what they gave themselves out for. The fashion has become contagious, and now we find, starting up in every street,
(to adopt the phraseology of ) of printsellers' and picture-dealers' unsaleable stock. The system is an admirable for accelerating the emptying of lumber rooms with advantage to their owners, and for increasing the already portentous number of walls in respectable houses stuck all over with stiff and glaring daubs. And this device for enabling demure conventional moralists to indulge the taste for gambling inherent in all human beings, with little apparent risk or breach of decorum, is trumpeted with the Stentor-power lungs of the puffing press as the day-dawn of a new and brilliant era in British art! The truth is, that the
which attracted the gulls of Queen Anne's reign, wre quite as much entitled to the epithet--
as the pieces of plastered canvas vended by means of the London little-goes of the present day.
[n.42.1] Speaking of toothache, some may have an interest in knowing that- A lady, having discovered an invaluable article for the toothache, now submits it to the public as unequalled, it not requiring any application to the teeth, or producing the slightest inconvenience.