[back to menu for this book ...]
AMONG THE PHRENOLOGISTS.
IF there be one good quality to which this Home Correspondent
may honestly lay claim, it is a natural humility of mind. He is perpetually
saying to himself: Why is this or that benefit conferred upon me? Why did Sir
Selin Wacks ask me to dinner, and Jones only to come in the evening? Why does
Mr. Mammon reserve a bedroom for me at his villa at Richmond, on Saturday and
Sunday nights, when he has so many other friends, who are equally fond of
billiards, and have a much larger balance at his bank than I? Why have I three
invitations to go down to Epsom free of charge - two of them with a Fortnum and
Mason hamper, and the other with the most beautiful of [-224
-] her sex - while so many men of my acquaintance have to pay
fifty shillings apiece for inferior accommodation? Is it that my moral virtues
place me on this eminence? I can scarcely say it is. Is it my personal beauty?
Is it my social rank? Is it my erudition - especially with regard to classical
attainments? Upon my word and honour, I cannot ascribe my good-fortune to any
Twas ever thus from childhood's hour. I never loved a young gazelle; but if I had entertained so ridiculous a caprice, I should doubtless have brought it up (of course, by hand) to maturity and old age. I have been a fortunate man through life, and nobody - no, not even Wickenden Snap - has been more astonished at it than myself. Most people know Wickenden, who confers immortality weekly, in the columns of the Pyramid, upon his friends, and condemns his enemies to everlasting obscurity. He is just that sort of literary man whom I most detest, and I don't think that he, on his part, is passionately attached to me. He has an [-225-] unnatural thirst after every kind of information, and, what is worse, he insists upon retailing it, not only in the Pyramid, but in conversation. He reminds me, and not in this respect alone, of those degraded savages who prepare food for toothless chiefs. He cannot see candles, for instance, on a friend's table, without demanding to know how much they cost, and how long they will burn.
"That is not wax, you know," he will observe in his charming manner: "it is some cheap composition or other. Now, what is it ?"
The greatest problem but one of social existence that presents itself to my mind is the inquiry: Why Wickenden Snap has never been horsewhipped? The greatest of all inquiries: Why was he ever placed in the realms of literature? If he must needs have been born - for which, however, I see no necessity - why was he not made an attorney's clerk in Whitechapel; or, having been made so (as I believe was the case), why did not he continue in that congenial sphere? I have said that I am of a humble disposition, but really [-226-] all my patience is called forth when I meet with Mr. Wickenden Snap. I experienced this pleasure within a few weeks of my appointment as H. C., and when its novel sheen was yet upon my wings. Adulation enough had been offered at my shrine to turn a wiser head; but my humility had been my sheet-anchor. I met Wickenden Snap with a countenance smiling indeed, but not so sublimely contemptuous as perhaps it had a right to be.
"Dear me," cried he, casting his gaze upon my boots, "what excellent blacking you use ! Pray where do you get it ?"
"Well," said I, "an old servant of my father's always supplies me with it; it is made from a peculiar recipe."
Here he whipped out his note-book and pencil. "It's rather a secret," said I.
"Oh, very well," replied the voice of Mr. Wickenden Snap, with singular placidity; but his ferrety eyes remarked, "Oh, you won't, won't you? And am I the editor of the Pyramid, and yet shall this be unavenged?
[-227-] "Mv dear fellow," said I, "I will tell it to you, but you must swear not to reveal it."
"I swear," cried Snap, his pencil jerking about in an electric impatience for copy.
"Take a quart of the best ink," said I - "the very best ink."
"Yes, go on - the very best ink."
"Not red ink," remarked I; "mind you are particular about that."
Wickenden Snap looked up like an adder, but I was as grave as a stone.
"Take half a pint of good old port - almost any vintage will do, but it must be fruity."
"I trust that you are not imposing upon me," observed the editor slowly, in a tone like the rasping of a file; "men do not impose upon me with impunity."
I looked at the small Satirist with wonder at the ease with which he was thrown off his guard; and fortunately he misunderstood my facial expression.
[-228-] "I did not mean to offend," said he; "pray go on; this recipe is most extraordinary and interesting."
"The port must be fruity," continued I; "and it's better to get it from the wood, lest any sealing-wax or grit should be mixed with it. Boil the mixture over a slow fire, and stir with a long stick, dipped frequently in lamp-black."
"What an expensive thing to put on one's boots," observed Mr. Snap reflectively, who, although given to gorgeous apparel, has a frugal mind.
"It ism" said I. "Beau Brummell himself bequeathed the secret to my father."
In the Pyramid of the next week there was an article beginning with "In the days of the Regency, when luxury surpassed the limit of even Roman indulgence, and attire became first a study then an Art, &c., &c" It concluded, after a social-historical summary of the period, with a picture of Beau Brummell expiring in a foreign land, under very unsatisfactory circumstances, and dictating with his [-229-] last breath my perfectly original recipe for blacking boots.
However, Wickenden Snap was really pleased with the information, and even congratulated me upon my appointment as H. C.
"You understand your duties," added he, "of course."
"Well," said I, "I hope so."
"Hope!" returned he sharply. "What do you mean by hope? Are you not sure? Have you never examined yourself on the matter? Have you no sense of responsibility? Is the elevation of the masses a matter to be lightly dealt with? Do you not feel what it is to be an Organ?"
"I am only a hurdy-gurdy, I admit," replied I. "I am very inferior to you, of course, but I intend to do my best."
"Well, I suppose you have done your best already. I read that account you wrote of the Royal Procession without weariness. You have some sense of humour."
If it would have been humorous to take Wick-[-230-]enden Snap by his little neck, and treat him like one of the Cimex, I had certainly a very strong sense of humour at that moment; but being humble, I only smiled, and said, "I thank you very much."
"You must not, however," pursued he, "persuade yourself that because you have made one lucky hit, you will prove a good swordsman. I would think twice if I were you about becoming H. C. for a permanency. I would learn, for instance, what sort of a head I had for a post of that kind."
"Your head, Mr. Snap, would do for a post of almost any kind," thought I; but I did not say so. I said, "I don't quite catch your meaning."
"I mean to say, why don't you go and get your head felt."
"There is more sense in getting one's hat felt than one's head," said I. "I don't believe in your phrenologists. A cricket-ball took me over the eye - here - at Eton, and they have given me great powers of Calculation ever since in con-[-231-]sequence of the bump. I would not give a shilling -"
"There is no occasion," interrupted Mr. Snap magnificently, "for any pecuniary expenditure. Here are orders from the Pyramid for half the phrenologists in London. Go, young man, and learn what is your basilar phrenometrical angle, and thereby whether you are fitted for the high calling into which you have somewhat rashly entered."
With these words Mr. Wickenden Snap hailed a passing Citizen, and entered it with the air of a conqueror, to whom its passengers had been given up for pillage and all other forms of disgraceful treatment. I was left alone on the pavement, patronized, subjugated, with my hands full of party-coloured tickets, with Admit the Bearer upon them, and Organical Diagnosis, Free. However, that I had "polished him off" with the Blacking, was an inexpressible comfort.
One of these cards had Camden Town for its address, and my natural humility led me to select [-232-] that neighbourhood for my first scientific venture, in preference to the more aristocratic localities devoted to phrenology. The street was unpretending, and the house I was in search of would have been rather mean in its externals, but for an enormous collection of highly-coloured photographs, which adorned its doorway. These photographs were likenesses of two peculiar classes of individuals, Murderers and Philosophers, who seemed to have fallen out together at some Conversazione, and beaten each other about the head most mercilessly. The philosophers had mainly received their blows in front, and the murderers behind, but the skulls of both were as "nobby" as the head of any black-thorn walking-stick. Mrs. Manning glared at Mrs. Somerville; Mr. Blomfield Rush scowled savagely at Dr. Gall; and Mr. Palmer looked strychnine at Mr George Combe. I congratulated myself, as I gazed upon these things, that I was not myself a moral philosopher, liable to be exposed to such odious comparisons after death. Two ignorant street-boys, who were enjoying this gra-[-233-]tuitous spectacle, imagined that the whole collection had suffered death at the Old Bailey for the destruction of their fellow-creatures, and quarrelled over the amiable Spurzheim, the one asserting him to be Courvoisier, and the other, Greenacre. The elder protested that he "ought to know," inasmuch as he had seen him in "the Room of 'Orrors" at the Baker Street Bazaar; the younger claimed an equal cognizance, from having visited a wax-work exhibition of interesting offenders in the Old Kent Road. It was not likely that these young persons could afford me information as to which of the five bell-handles in the door-post communicated with the philosopher I sought, so I inquired of a youth who was keeping a very sharp eye on a neighbouring book-stall, whether he knew upon which floor lodged Mr. Cranium.
"Fourth floor," returned the lad, with a grin of demoniacal intelligence at his two contemporaries.
Then I rang the fourth-floor bell about six times. "It's no good your ringing," remarked [-234-] the book-boy, when I had discovered that fact for myself: "Mr. Cranium ain't at home, he ain't. He's got a werry bad cold."
At this affecting intelligence the three boys burst into shrieks of laughter. I understand the genus Boy and his depravities as well as any grown person can, hut I confess this conduct puzzled me. After a few minutes, however, and many genial impertinences, I discovered that having a bad cold means, in Camden Town, being in debt, while "a very bad cold" implies that the sufferer has taken clandestine departure from his lodgings.
Without affirming that pecuniary misfortune was inconveniencing other professors of phrenology, I must confess that I had the same difficulty in obtaining a personal interview in two out of the three next cases. The men of science had "flitted" from their apartments, urged, perhaps, by some irrepressible swelling in their organs of Locality. Perhaps, also, it is a requirement of their art that they should dwell no lower than the third floor; but, at all events, I never found them below that altitude.
[-235-] Mr. Branepan, with whom I had my first interview, could scarcely be said to lodge on any floor at all; he resided in a back projection of a third story in a street out of Holborn, and carried on his investigations, undisturbed by any external influences, through the medium of a skylight. He was enormously struck by my head, he said, even as he had observed it coming upstairs with its hat on: while leaning over the banisters, he had remarked to his little boy, aged five, but remarkably intelligent - "with Form much developed," he assured me, although to my eye he looked thin - that "the gentleman who was come to see papa was a very remarkable person." He was fairly captivated with my craniological characteristics. Bless my soul, sir, how I should like to write upon your head !"
"Dear me," said I, "is it then so very flat at the top ?"
"No, sir; you mistake me: I mean I should like to give you a written character instead of a mere phrenological chart. The difference will be [-236-] but 7s. 6d. The value to yourself will be incalculable. You will thereby learn the system of diet most adapted for your constitution. That is most important in your case. Alimentativeness, the instinct that leads to the selection of food, I perceive, is large."
"Really," said I, "Mr. Branepan, these remarks are rather painful. I am not come here to be lectured upon my eating."
"Certainly not, sir; nor is there any occasion for such a rebuke. You will always take care of yourself - that is evident. Vitativeness, the unwillingness to die, is excessively prominent. Combativeness, again, is small; your personal animosities would never lead you into danger. Permit me" -
"What are you doing, sir ?" cried I, as the professor produced a machine of mysterious construction, and endeavoured to put it over my head. I thought of the unhappy victims of Messrs. Burke and Hare, whose portraits I had just beheld in a rival establishment, and I shrunk [-237-] backward hike an unwi1ling horse from his collar and no oats.
"There, sir - there is Vitativeness: there is a proof of the veracity of my art, if one were needed. But there is nothing to be afraid of. With this machine, I determine your geometrical configuration; I lay my finger on the profession that you ought to pursue."
"That is the very thing I came about," said I. "Fray proceed, if the - the instrument is harmless."
It tickled me a good deal, as a shoemaker tickles one's foot as he measures it with his rule, but nothing worse; while the results were sufficiently striking, if not satisfactory.
"One of the most remarkable heads, sir, I ever manipulated - the great Cracksken perhaps alone excepted."
"And who was he?" inquired I with interest; for I naturally felt a desire to know the man with the next most wonderful head to that upon my own shoulders.
[-238-] "Well, sir, he might have been anything - anything in the world might that man have been, or else phrenology is worth nothing. He might have been a general, or an author, or a prime minister, or a bishop, if he had only tried."
"Well, but what was he?" inquired I, impatiently.
"Well, when I knew him he was the Champion Contortionist at the Adelaide Gallery. He could tie himself in a true-lovers' knot upon the stage, bless you. But besides that, he was a most intellectual and benevolent man. In later life, however, he injured his bumps a good deal by the pursuit of his profession. His Veneration entirely disappeared through standing on his head; while even his Self-esteem, which, you see, slopes off, and is partially protected, got gradually smaller, and was almost even with the surface at the period of his decease, his popularity having died before him. The great Cracksken, however, had Humour, in which you are very deficient."
[-239-] "Am I indeed ?" said I gloomily.
"Yes, sir, you have a natural dislike to drollery, and consider those who practise it to be Buffoons. But Heavens! what Weight you have! what Calculation! what ideas of distance and of space! Forgive me, sir, but I am surely addressing a civil engineer."
"Well, not exactly," replied I.
"Indeed, sir; then I am much mistaken."
"You are a little, Mr. Branepan."
"Well, then, all I have to say is, that if you are not an engineer, you ought to be. You would build a bridge, now, that would astonish people."
If they attempted to cross over any bridge of mine, it would, I am sure, astonish people a good deal; but as Mr. Branepan evidently meant astonishment in the sense of admiration, I only said:
"Engines, now, would be very much in your way," continued the professor; "and next to engines, surgery. You would perform an amputation as well as any man I know."
[-240-] If this were true, it is certain that Mr. Branepan could never have enjoyed the acquaintance of any very distinguished anatomist. But I calmly remarked:
"You don't say so."
To which he replied:
"But I do, though, and am prepared to prove it."
This last statement was so inexpressibly alarming, that it rendered me speechless. How could he have proved it? What victim had he in his mind to select, upon whom to flesh my virgin saw and lance? Was it that intelligent boy? or himself? or the cat? or I? I had read of the length to which some enthusiasts are prepared to go in support of their favourite theories, and I shuddered. However, the extreme prominence of my Time and Tune here most fortunately attracted him, and he went off into the Perceptive Faculties.
"Now do, sir, permit me to write out your character at length ; it would be a genuine pleasure [-241-] to me, quite independent of the seven-and-six. Now, do."
"Well," said I, "just as you like. The fact is, I have an order for 'an organical diagnosis,' free, from the office of the Pyramid."
If moral bumps are affected by mental blows, Mr. Branepan's organ of Hope must have been within a very little of collapse at this intelligence. His countenance fell, and he turned his eye upon the thin child with a look that sent the front part of my organ of Benevolence, that which denotes sympathy with the object, a full inch upwards; the back part, which denotes a desire to give, was raised coincidently about a quarter of an inch.
"I will fill up your phrenological chart, sir," said the professor sadly; "but to write out a character free - why, you see, it's a great labour."
I received the chart, with its credentials for my fitness for the pursuits of surgery and civil engineering, and dropped the usual payment for the same into the hand of the child. We parted excellent friends; but poor Mr. Branepan did not [-242-] hang over the banisters in admiration of my phrenological developments, as he had done on my arrival.
I subsequently visited other professors, who manipulated my head, but without touching my heart, as in the above case; and they all gave me Time, and Tune, and Calculation, and a particular fondness for scientific experiment, in return for my five shillings sterling - for the use of Mr. Wickenden Snap's admission-cards was not to be thought of after that first adventure.
Having exhausted the East, which these wise men seem principally to affect, I made my final experiment with a phrenological sage in Knightsbridge. This gentleman, like the rest, inhabited a house with many bell-handles, beneath one of which were engraved the words, "Professor's Bell;" and that I accordingly rung. If there had been no such name appended, I should have rung the top bell, but as it was, I roused the second-floor with rather an impatient peal, for I had got to learn by experience that phrenologists [-243-] are by no means easily hurried. With the person or persons with whom I had now to do, however, this was very different. A noise immediately took place like a lady coming downstairs at the top of her speed with crinoline on, likewise a sliding noise as produced by a boy descending banisters, the whole accompanied by the barking of a dog. In a few seconds, the door opened, and the lady, and the boy, and the dog, stood before me in the attitude of expectancy.
"Did I indeed want the professor ?"
"Yes, I did," said I; and I had not the bad-manners to add: "But neither his wife, nor his son, nor his Italian greyhound."
"Ah," said the lady, in the French tongue, "we are charmed to hear it; are we not, Alphonse? Are we not, Bijou? Is it not excellent? Will Monsieur he so good as to ascend? My husband is - is with a tobacco-pipe; otherwise he would have been ravished to have appeared himself. We are all transported to see Monsieur."
[-244-] "Heavens !" thought I, "is it possible, then, that these people are aware of my identity? Do they know that I am the Home Correspondent, who is such a general favourite? Does even this greyhound - an alien - But no; there must be some mistake." My natural humility at once divined that they were in error. However, I preceded the party, human and canine, to the second-floor, where 1 found a French Gentleman smelling very strongly of tobacco, who, upon the instant that he saw me, proceeded to divest himself of his coat.
"Ha, ha," exclaimed he; "Monsieur is welcome, but he is very late. There will be scarcely light for the one, two, three, and Da ;" and with that he made a scientific lunge at my chest with his forefinger, that I had the greatest difficulty in warding off with my umbrella. "Ha, ha! you understand to fence; it is well. Bijou - les fleurets." At this the Italian greyhound ran to a corner of the room, and dragged from it a pair of foils, which he laid at his master's feet. The professor [-245-] handed one of these to me with a polite bow, bowed again to his wife and offspring, who stood by delighted spectators of these acts of folly, stamped with his foot, and ran the button of his foil into my right arm with considerable violence before I could utter a protest.
"My very good sir," cried I, "what are you about? I am not come here to fight, but to have my head examined."
"His haid!" exclaimed the professor, throwing up his eyes to the ceiling: "my heart, then he do go above !"
"His haid!" repeated the lady plaintively; "he is but come for his bump."
The intelligent Bijou set up a wail of horror. The French boy, in tolerable English, explained that his father gave fencing-lessons, and that the phrenologist of whom I was in search lived on the next floor. It was evident that the family were cruelly disappointed, but they bade me adieu with great civility nevertheless. The professor made one deadly stab at a phantom phrenologist, and [-246-] then resumed his coat and his gaiety at once. He had hoped, he said, to have had the privilege of instructing Monsieur in the conduct of the short-sword, but it seemed it was to be otherwise. Alphonse accompanied me to the next landing.
The inhabitant of the third floor afforded a curious contrast to the lodger beneath him. A grave man, with a head so bald and protuberant that it looked like an advertisement of his own profession, received me with frigid affability, and motioned me to a chair. "I made a mistake, Mr. Schulfelt," observed I smiling, "and called upon your neighbour."
"People often do," returned he solemnly, "especially those the side-depth of whose posterior sections from the mastoid process to the back of head is more than three inches."
"Dear me," said I; "then such persons are not at least to be considered stupid?"
"Certainly not," returned the phrenologist; "only the victims of conformation. You could no [-247-] more help it than you can alter your very peculiar mode of walking."
"How can you possibly tell how I walk, sir ?" observed I reddening.
"I was looking out of the window as you came up the street, and 1 said to myself: 'What a love of approbation that young man has got.' The natural language of that organ is to carry the head backward, and a little to the side: it gives, however, not an ungraceful rolling motion to the head and body; and it imparts a pleasing tone to the voice. You perceive this cast of the head of, a negro?"
"I do," said I: "it is truly horrible. I suppose there must be truth in the notion of the inferiority of that race."
Mr. Schulfelt threw upon me a pitying smile, as though I were some harmless insect in difficulties - a fly in treacle, or a bee imprisoned in a double window.
"That is the head of Eustache, the benevolent black; he received the prize of Virtue from the [-248-] Institute of France; he saved four hundred whites from massacre in St. Domingo. It is almost the model head. The love of approbation is, however, as in your own case, too developed. This, on the other hand, is Manning the murderer: with a proper system of classification, such a man would never have been permitted to be at large."
"But would you then imprison for life all persons with bumps of an unpromising character?"
"Bumps!" ejaculated Mr. Schulfelt, throwing up his hands: "alas, what stupendous ignorance! Bumps have nothing to do with it; all depends upon the basilar phrenometrical angle. Now, I can furnish you with two descriptions of character: which do you prefer?"
"I should like the best character that you can honestly give me," replied I, smiling.
"That will be one pound one," observed the phrenologist.
"Then I think I prefer the other," returned I decidedly.
[-249-] "You will, at least, I suppose, be placed under the phreno-physiometer?"
"Well," said I, "if it isn't a shower-bath, nor yet an electrical machine - I will."
While the phrenologist retired for a few moments to prepare this mysterious instrument, I amused myself by reading a sheet of printed testimonials which was stuck up over the chimney- piece instead of a mirror, to reflect this philosopher's virtues.
"Dear sir," witnessed a clergyman, "when you visited our neighbourhood last summer you examined my head. I beg to thank you for pointing out my deficiencies. I hope, through Divine aid, to alter in some degree those points through the mode you suggested."
A candid inquirer after truth, remarked: "I went into your studio - I confess it - simply to gratify my curiosity, and to while away an idle moment; but when I found you gave such a truthful description of my character, I was perfectly astonished, and my wonder increased as you [-250-] proceeded. I believe now in the basilar phrenometrical angle as firmly as I believe I exist."
A third gentleman, who seemed to decline making the affair a personal matter, "begged to add his testimony to the skilful and truthful manner in which Mr. S. delineates the mental, moral, and animal characteristics of mankind."
The great majority of the testimonials, indeed, preferred, I noticed, to praise the art of phrenology at the expense of anybody rather than themselves. Thus: "I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your professional remarks. They are most satisfactory, especially in my wife's case."
Again: "I am delighted with the charts, and with the correctness of your observations; more particularly with regard to my brothers and sisters."
And again: "We are not always the best judges of ourselves; but when I compare your remarks upon the other heads you examined that morning, with my knowledge of the character of each, I am convinced of the truth of your science. That Lord Palmerston's mind should [-251-] have been struck with the geometrical measurement of the head, is only what I should have expected."
For my own part, I do not wonder at his lordship's mind being struck, if his lordship's head was submitted to the phreno-physiometer; that engine being to the instrument of torture used by photographers to keep the head steady, as the cumbrous mechanism of the guillotine is to the simplicity of the Spanish garotte. Mr. Branepan's little apparatus was a mere toy compared to it.
"Your destructive propensities will now be finally determined," observed Mr. Schulfelt, as he adjusted this affair to my cranium. "Twenty-five degrees is the proper development. The angle of murderers averages forty degrees. Gracious goodness! what a head !"
"My dear sir," cried I, "tell me the very worst. What am I ?"
"Oh, it's all right," observed the phrenologist calmly; "the machine shifted a little; that was all. You're not so very bad."
[-252-] "Am I very nearly forty ?" inquired I.
"No; not twenty. You are not over-energetic, I am sorry to say. However, I have met with much less promising cases. At the water-cure last summer, I met a gentleman and lady whose angles were only twelve degrees on the quadrant. They had several children, who had no angles at all, to speak of. They were an extraordinary vapid and helpless party; but fortunately they were rich enough to keep a man-servant, whose angle was twenty-five degrees, and he managed their affairs for them pretty well."
"Well," said I, "they had only to keep a phreno-physiometer, to always insure a good description of domestic. I should not mind having a little less angle myself, with a corresponding addition to my income."
"You do not know what you are talking about,
[* Since my interview with Mr. Schulfelt, I have seen reason to believe that the above experience was not entirely personal, but derived from a certain popular work upon Phrenology.]
[-253-] remarked the professor severely. "Only yesterday, two
elderly ladies called here, to have the head of their nephew examined."
"Did they bring it along with them ?" asked I, with interest.
"Sir," observed Mr. Schulfelt severely, "the boy himself accompanied them. I found the basilar phrenometrical angle of that wretched lad to be forty-five degrees. I was unable to conceal my apprehensions."
"'You need not fear to tell us what you think,' exclaimed the elder female, who turned out to be his stepmother; 'we are prepared for anything, I assure you.'
"'He has a slight tendency, ma'am, to acts of violence.'
"'Very good,' remarked the lady-in whom Firmness, by-the-by, was admirably developed; we don't wish to know any more, thank you. Tom, you go to sea on Saturday.'
"I was thus the humble means of selecting for a fellow-creature the profession most suited to his [-254-] disposition. He will probably get himself naturalised as a citizen of the United States, and distinguish himself as a filibuster."
"But why place him in a position likely to foster his evil propensities?"
"I give them a legitimate channel," argued the phrenologist. "If his friends had made him a clergyman, he would probably have murdered his bishop."
"Then send him to the colonies," said I. "Convocation would liberally subscribe for his passage out to Natal."
"Sir," returned Mr. Schulfelt solemnly, "you are more than five degrees below Gravity and Wonder; and but for your Love of Approbation, I should tremble for your future."
"Nay," replied I, "that is the very matter I am come about. I wish to know what line of life you recommend me to adopt."
"That comes under the head of Organical Diagnosis," observed the philosopher calmly; "price one pound one."
[-255-] "Well," said I, as I placed the less extravagant of his two charges in his not unwilling palm, "you will at least inform me whether I am fitted for the post of a Home Correspondent."
At the touch of the two half-crowns, Mr. Schulfelt's countenance began to expand like a flower in the sun, and having rung them upon the table and found them to be genuine, he favoured me with an affable smile. "A Home Correspondent, my young friend, eh ?" He placed his hands like a stage-uncle in the act of benediction upon my much-manipulated head. "Yes, yes. No Ideality; good. Time (which includes punctuality), excellent for a young man of business; only don't take to glee-singing; that is the rock you are most likely to split upon in your commercial life. Language, first-rate; you should be the Foreign Correspondent of the House, rather than - Ah! what's this? Imitation. Dear me almost servile; but that does not matter in your case; you will be a most admirable penman. No Individuality. There is just the faintest trace of [-256-] Humour. I should think you were fond of practical jokes, but that is no great harm, so long as you indulge in them out of business-hours. I never examined an individual more happily suited for the Commercial Line."
Ah, Wickenden Snap, how terribly wast thou avenged!