[... back to menu for this book]
Empiricism in the Shoe Blacking trade Religious Empiricism Quackery in the Publishing trade Political Quacks Legal Quacks Quacks in trade in general Career of a noted Quack Concluding remarks.
I HAVE stated in the preceding chapter
that empiricism is not confined to medicine;
it abounds in every business and profession
that can be named. In the Shoeblacking-trade, quackery is peculiarly rife.
We have been daily assured for years past,
that to such a pitch of excellence has the
manufacture of shoe-blacking been carried
that the usual brittle mirrors which grace
our drawing-rooms, or lie on our bedroom
tables, may now be dispensed with, and a
boot, polished with the blacking prepared by
the advertiser, substituted for them. It has
been boldly affirmed that a boot so polished [-77-] possesses reflective attributes of a far higher
order than the best and most expensive mirror
The rivalry, a few years ago; among the manufacturers of matchless blacking, was so great that two or three of the leading quacks in that department of trade actually retained poets of high reputation to sing the praises of their paste and liquid. It has been confidently stated that even Byron himself, before he attained the height of his fame, received enormous sums for his poetical eulogiums on the shoe polish of a well-known manufacturer of that commodity. Whether this be true or otherwise, I am not in a condition to say; but no one in the practice of reading the public journals eighteen or twenty years ago, could fail to have been struck with the rapid succession of brilliant poetic effusions in praise of the commodity in question, which then graced the advertising columns of the newspapers. In some cases, the jet-blacking proprietors monopolized the talents of particular poets, paring them an annual sum for their "verse," [-78-] just as the proprietor of a magazine pays its editor, and expressly stipulating that no rival manufacturer of the paste or liquid should have the benefit of their abilities. In other instances, it was privately intimated to moat of the literary men then in the metropolis, that poetical pieces would be gladly received, and that those which were approved should be liberally remunerated, the remuneration being at the rate of one guinea for every twenty lines. A gentleman of competent taste was duly appointed, and duly salaried, to sit in judgment on the pieces submitted for decision. There were hosts of competitors, and the quality of the pieces ranged from the highest order of excellence to the veriest trash. The muses must have wept, if ever their lady-ships resign themselves to the melting mood, to think that such discreditable effusions as some of them were, should ever have proceeded from the pens of persons who but a few moments before had professed to pay their court to them. But though much of the matter thus penned in laudation of the marvellous virtues of blacking [-79-] never got above the bottom of mediocrity, there were many pieces of superior merit, which were necessarily rejected owing to the great number of competitors. One clever piece, beginning with
The DAY-Star rises and the MARTIN sings.
written by a gentleman whose name, at this moment, occupies a highly respectable position in the literary circles in which he moves, was numbered among the rejected contributions. The piece in question was written to sing the praises of Day and Martin's blacking; hence the propriety of underlining the two words in the opening line. I have often thought that a tasteful selection from the pieces approved of and published, would, if sold at a cheap price, have a very fair circulation. I have not a sufficient number of them before me to select the most favourable specimens. Out of five pieces which are all to which I have access at present, I select two. The first cannot fail to [-80-] remind the reader of the manner of the late Dr. Walcott, who wrote so many humourous pieces, under the assured cognomen of " Peter Pindar the Second." It is entitled
MANAGEMENT; OR, RAISING THE WIND.
In boots which reflected each form like a glass,
A jolter enjoyed, at an inn, a good dinner;
But who can avert evil fortune? alas!
No blunt in the locker, this pennyless sinner,
In jeopardy plac'd for his grub, left his coat,
And thus on adventure was usher'd afloat;
A surtout was left, which he button'd close round him,
And soon as a guest a new innkeeper found him.
He supp'd, drank his grog, went to bed, and pursuits
Of management dream'd, of the wind how to raise!
When enter'd a monkey, as rose the sun's rays,
And bore off, in triumph, his mirror-like boots.
Or raising the wind dispossess'd then of fears,
He rang an alarm in the innkeeper's ears,
Who scamper'd up-stairs in surprise and affright.
"I'm robb'd!" cried the guest, "of my boots in the night,
And coat that contain'd, in bank-notes, twenty pounds."
This story the credulous landlord confounds,
Who forth, with the speed of an arrow now shoots,
Then quickly returns with a new coat and boots,
And twenty pounds pays, his guest's loss to replace,
And save thus his house from impending disgrace.
[-81-] The stranger, contented, his exit then made,
And Pug was soon found in the bright boots array'd;
When came the first vintner, with whom it now seem'd
The joker had been, and his garment redeem'd.
The wily manoeuvrist made good his retreat,
And, but for the ape, had not thought of the feat,
The boots, like true mirrors, the incident lacking
And still, at the inn, 'tis a subject replete
With a joke, when the townsmen or travellers meet,
Thus raising the wind, and by W 's jet blacking.
The other piece is, perhaps, still more lively. It is headed
THE ROPE-VAULTER; OR, THE COUNTRY EXCURSION.
Last Bartholomew Fair on a Monday began;
The market had clos'd, when, bestriding his horse,
Through Smithfield a yeoman directed his course
In haste to a booth, as the multitude ran,
Outside, where a rope-vaulting monkey display'd
His skill, in appropriate costume array'd.
His agile performances, and antic grimaces
Created a number of risible faces.
"Encore!" cried the yeoman the monkey turn'd round,
And, casting his eye at the yeoman's bright boots,
Suspended. in wonder, all other pursuits;
In these, by reflection, his image he found,
As if in a mirror, and, judgment to show,
Adjusted his dress by the fine jetty glow.
[-82-] The crowd highly prais'd this new amateur's taste ;
When, Presto, begone! Jacko sprang up behind;
And, throwing his arms round the yeoman'. broad waist.
The horse the Old Bailey pass'd down like the wind,
And Blackfriars Bridge with velocity cross'd
While all eyes these mystified riders engross'd.
At home, when arriv'd, what but terror prevail'd,
The yeoman, as seen by the assail'd!
"The ! 'tis one of the blacking's
The yeoman replied - while the monkey the act in
Of setting his dress to the bright boots, again
Resorted his amateur taste to sustain.
Restor'd to his home, to prevent like disaster,
A toilet for Jacko is found by his master,
In chute and resplendent reflection not lacking
Boots polish'd by W's pre-eminent blacking.
In the shape of prose, also, there have appeared, from time to time, some pompous pieces of composition, in praise of the "easy-shining and brilliant" commodity of a particular quack. Not content with representing it as possessing, in addition to its brilliant attributes, the quality of excluding damp, and giving pliancy and durability to the leather, the empirical manufacturer com-[-83-]mences a pompous advertisement in the following terms:-
The progress of merit, although frequently
assailed, is not impeded by envy and detraction.
The aggression of ambuscade terminates in
defeat, and conscious rectitude triumphs in
the attainment of the grand object-public
approbation. The test of experience is the
guarantee of favour, and has established
T's blacking in general estimation;
of which there exists not a stronger proof than
the tacit acknowledgment of a host of servile
imitators, who surreptitiously obtrude on the
unwary a spurious preparation as the genuine
article, to the great disappointment of the
unguarded purchaser, and manifest injury of T, whose character and interest, by this
iniquitous system, are equally subjected to detriment. It becomes, therefore, an
indispensable duty to caution the public
against the manoeuvres of unprincipled ven-[-84-]ders, who, having no character to
stimulated by avarice in their nefarious pursuits, aim at the acquisition of money,
through any medium other than that of honour."
I look on this passage as a perfect gem in its way. I never, in the whole course of my reading, met with so rich a specimen of magniloquence. I will undertake to say, it is unparalleled in the pages of mock-majestic composition. It is a sort of appeal to the British nation, to use open moral warfare, if it be not, indeed, an advice to have recourse to physical force, against the parties so energetically denounced and held up to the scorn of all virtuous men. Who could have previously imagined that one empiric in the "matchless" and "brilliant" trade, could have felt such boundless indignation towards the other members of the "shining" fraternity ? Yet so it is. Had the writer been a Chartist, and been at the same time partial to the theory, that it was fitting and proper [-85-] that a practical illustration of his principles should be afforded, there is no estimating the amount of mischief which he might have perpetrated.
Even Religion itself, notwithstanding its heavenly origin and hallowed nature, is not exempt from empiricism. Who could not point to one or more preachers of Christianity, who resort to quackish expedients to bring themselves into notice? Even in. the church or chapel, we are often obliged to witness a great deal of "claptrap," either in the matter or manner of the minister; not unfrequently in both. Who does not know or has not heard of particular preachers, whose stock of theology is so scanty as to disqualify them from standing up in a pulpit, and who find it no easy task to conceal the extent of their obligations to the published sermons of others? And then, if we take a wider range, and embrace those who avow their attachment to Christianity no matter to what denomination the parties belong how much of empiricism do we discover! He who makes a greater profession of religion than his [-86-] principles, his feelings, his experience, and conduct justify, is a religious quack. So. also is the man who makes an undue parade of his piety; though in both cases the term by which the world usually characterises the party, is that of hypocrite.
But I must not pursue this point farther, lest I trespass on the domains of the professed theologian. In Literature, we have quacks without number. A literary empiric, if my definition be a correct one, is an author who goes about boasting of his knowledge of subjects or points in literature, of which he is ignorant; or who, when he publishes a work, has recourse to undue means to bring it into notice, and to promote its sale. He and the case, I find, is by no means one of such rare occurrence as I once imagined it to be he who lauds himself in notices of his own work, is pre-eminently a literary quack, and one of the most contemptible kind. So is the author who uses the in1luence he possesses with the editors of journals to procure a favourable notice of his works. And equally empirical is [-87-] the practice, so prevalent among literary men, of representing their works as having had a much larger share of success than they have actually met with. It is well known that by these and other empirical expedients, many persons have palmed themselves off for a time, on the public, as literary characters of great importance. It were no difficult task to mention the names of many such persons who, within the last twenty years, have thus succeeded, for a time, in persuading the public that they were men of consideration in the literary world. Charlatanism in literature, however, is much more promptly detected than in almost any thing else that could be named.
Perhaps I may be asked, since there is so much charlatanism among literary men, is the Publishing trade free from the taint of quackery? Far from it. I know of few businesses or professions I am not sure which is the more correct term in which empiricism is so rife as in that of publishing. Witness the numerous elaborate unadulterated [-88-] puffs of new works which daily appear in the public journals, duly paid for as advertisements, though they have all the appearance of paragraphs which have flowed spontaneously from the pens of the editors of the respective journals in which they are inserted. All these puffs are manufactured in the establishments of the publishers of the works so prodigally praised. Another exemplification of bibliopolic quackery is afforded in the practice, now so common, of representing particular books as having passed through several editions by announcing a third, fourth, fifth, or sixth edition, when the fact is that the work has scarcely had any sale at all. The most consummate contemporary quack connected with the publishing trade, occasionally inserts a long list of small works in the newspapers, all of which are represented as having reached from ten to thirty editions. I myself know an instance in which a publisher, who printed five hundred copies of a small work, divided that number into four editions. What between the number of [-89-] copies sent to newspapers and magazines, and those given away to friends, the larger part of the first edition, consisting of one hundred and twenty five copies, was got rid of the first day; the remainder were put aside, and the sale of the second edition commenced on the second day. In the course of eight days, about half the second edition had found their way out of the publisher's premises, and a third edition was announced as ready, with what Burns would have called considerable "pomp of circumstance." In ten or twelve days afterwards, the publisher, by a similar process, was enabled to advertise the appearance of a fourth edition. People imagining that each had been a bona fide one, consisting of at least five hundred copies, very naturally concluded that a volume which was running through edition after edition at this railroad rate, must be a work of more than usual merit. The result was that the whole of the fourth edition was promptly sold. Then the publisher recurred to the remainder of the third edition, which also, in due time, vanished [-90-] from his shelves. Of course the unsold copies of edition the second, were then supplied, as long as they lasted, to customers; and when they also had disappeared, the remaining stock of the first edition was brought into the literary market. The empirical publisher was thus supplying his customers with the first edition of his little volume some weeks after the fourth had been entirely disposed of!
This was certainly, we should think, a sufficiently barefaced instance of empiricism. It is, however, not to be compared to another, which I am about to name. Will it be believed that not long ago, one of our quack publishers, in a small way of business, had the matchless effrontery to advertise a little work as being to be published the day after the advertisement appeared, and then, on the following day, to announce the sixth edition of the work in question! In other words, the consummate charlatan had the words "sixth edition," printed in conspicuous letters on the title-page of the very first copy he sold!
Passing over other descriptions of empirics, [-91-] I come to Political Quacks. Their name is legion. There is one particular place in which they are a most plentiful crop. Need I mention it? Does not every reader at once point to the House of Commons? There there are nightly exhibitions of the most consummate quackery. The whole Parliamentary conduct, indeed, of many of the members is, from the commencement to the close of the session, one uninterrupted exhibition of quackery. They bring particular motions forward for no other purpose than to bring themselves forward. With certain questions they appear wondrously conversant: their information and their knowledge having, according to the homely expression, been got up for the nonce. Eight days before delivering their marvellously intelligent speeches, they were perfectly unacquainted with the question. And their information being the result of what is called "cramming," it will soon vanish from their minds. If you converse with them six or seven weeks afterwards on the subject, you will find that they have relapsed into their [-92-] pristine ignorance. Their speeches at the time contained everything they knew; their supposed intimacy with the question did not extend an iota beyond what they communicated to the House, and through the House to the country. Other members, again, are apparently unboundedly zealous on particular points: their zeal is all assumed for the purpose of standing well with their constituents and the country. Another decided exhibition of quackery on the part of our representatives remains to be noticed. I allude to the practice, by no means uncommon, of members writing out their speeches and then giving them to the reporters; by which means they appear verbatim in the papers next day, and the country is led to believe, from the space thus devoted in the public journals to their orations, that they must be men of very great importance in St. Stephen's; whereas, had the reporters been left to exercise their own discretion as to how much or how little of their harangues should be given, what, perhaps, when furnished by the orators themselves, [-93-] fills a goodly column, would be so unsparingly curtailed of their fair proportions, as to occupy no more than twenty or thirty lines; and thus afford the country a correct index of the status which the speakers really occupy in the House.
As for Legal Quacks, again, they are innumerable. Westminster Hall is full of empirics. The lofty pretensions and shallow acquirement of many of the performers, exhibit a marked contrast. Of the ignoble expedients to which many of the gentlemen of the long robe have recourse with the view of bringing themselves into notice and obtaining briefs, I say nothing. He who does not know some of these must have but a very limited acquaintance indeed with the annals of Westminster Hall, the Old Bailey, or any of the other civil or criminal courts which exist in the metropolis.
But why particularly specify religion, literature, the publishing trade, politics, or the law, as professions in which empiricism is rampant? I should like to be told, if any one [-94-] can tell me, in what profession or occupation it does not abound. What department of science or art can be mentioned, in which there is not a greater or less number of quacks? And if we descend to the more humble callings of life, we find empiricism flourishing in what a poet would describe as all the "vigour of manhood." We have quack shavers "for a penny" without number; persons who engage to rid us of our beards without feeling the slightest uneasiness under the operation, and with a promptitude which, but for the confident way in which they speak, would be incredible. In the manufacture and sale of the halfpenny pies which are exhibited in tin boxes in the streets, there is a world of empiricism. They are declared by the venders to be the "most best pies as vas ever made;" and their good qualities are dwelt upon with so much earnestness and eloquence, that it is only surprising the pedestrians whose ears are charmed with their praises, do not pounce upon and eat them up with as much avidity as if her [-95-] Majesty's metropolitan subjects were one and all in a state of starvation.
Even Nature herself cannot boast exemption from the intrusions of quackery. Charlatanism thrusts its hated presence into almost every part of her wide domains. Who has not heard of the notorious weather quack, who is understood to have speculated so profitably on the ignorance and credulity of the public, as to pocket, in the short space of three or four months, upwards of £3000. by his pompous pretensions to a knowledge of the laws which regulate the variations in the weather?
Hitherto I have spoken of quacks and quackery in reference to one particular line of empiricism. There are however, many empirics who scorn the idea of confining their quackish exploits to anyone branch of business. In some cases they try their hands at two or three empirical trades: in others at ten or a dozen. There is a noted empiric in town at the present moment whose quackish practices are so varied and multifarious, that it were no easy matter to name a line of business [-96-] or profession, in which he has not at one time or other appeared. In several departments of quackery, he is at this instant carrying on a thriving business. The history of this empiric is an extraordinary one. He was brought up, to the business of a cobler, at which he worked to the satisfaction of those who intrusted him with the repairs of their damaged boots and shoes, until he had attained the age of twenty-five. He then married; and his soul rising contemporaneously with that event, above his leather and his last, he resolved on earning literary renown, and if possible bettering his pecuniary circumstances at the same time. But the question suggested itself how was this to be done? How was literary distinction, and an improved state of his finances to be achieved? The embryo empiric did not possess a particle of learning, unless the capability of reading ordinary English in an ordinary way, and writing a tolerable hand, ought to be dignified with the name. An ingenious idea struck him. He resolved on reading a number of works on popular science, and then, having [-97-] by means of a pair of scissors and a quantity of paste dovetailed together the more interesting and more easily comprehensible portions of each book, forming them into a whole. The work thus promptly manufactured was carefully transcribed by a young acquaintance, who could write a superior hand. An attractive title was next invented, and to give the greater effect to the title, he prefixed to his name, as the author, the honorary term "Professor," and appended to it the initials, " F.R.S. L.L.D.," and several others of an equally imposing kind. The little work found a publisher, and the publisher obtained for it a remunerating sale. The little reputation which "The Professor" thus acquired, by not only stealing other people's ideas, but their very words, did not, however, satisfy his aspirations after literary and scientific fame. Nor did the comparatively slow process of obtaining a name in the world by the publication of books, at all accord with his eager and impatient anxiety to be considered a man of literary note. What then was to be done to accelerate [-98-] his progress to the distinction he coveted, and to his possession of the means which he concluded that distinction would place at his disposal for bettering his pecuniary condition? a consummation of which, I ought to have already remarked, he never lost sight in his yearnings after literary and scientific celebrity. His ideas on this head proved him to be a genius of no ordinary kind. In the course of five minutes his fertile brain, fertile, I mean in the way of inventing ways and means of bringing himself into notice, not only formed a philosophic society which was called by the name of the greatest moral philosopher the world ever produced, but represented the society as being in active operation, and including in the list of its directors and members, a multitude of names, which, though altogether unknown to fame, were nevertheless those of persons who were members of all the learned and philosophical societies in Christendom. The number of initials which was appended to each name, was not only extraordinary, but reminded one of the tail of a comet. It was only [-99-] surprising that the names of gentlemen who could rejoice in being members of such a host of learned bodies, should have been wholly unknown to an "intelligent and discerning public." Yet so it was: nobody had ever, not even by accident, encountered the name of any of these illustrious philosophers; but being unwilling to admit his ignorance of the existence of the attainments of such men, every person concealed his surprise in his own breast. The very first intimation which the public received of the existence of this imposing association of literati and philosophers, was conveyed to them in the shape of a report of their proceedings in a morning paper; the Professor himself figuring as the president and principal speaker. With the assistance of the person already referred to, who was a young man of some education, and whose pecuniary circumstances, coupled with the utter absence of principle in such matters, rendered him the obedient servant and convenient tool of the empiric, the clap-trap report was prepared and sent to the morning journal alluded to. [-100-] But how, it will be asked, did it find its way into the columns of the paper? Why, the empiric's inventive powers hit upon a very ingenious scheme for the purpose. To the report was appended a resolution purporting to have been carried by deafening acclamations, after most eulogistic speeches by the mover and seconder, to the effect that Jacob Judkins, Esq., the editor of the Morning Intelligencer, had been unanimously appointed honorary member of the V Society. The distinguished compliment thus paid to the editor, insured a ready passport to the entire report into the columns of the Intelligencer. Finding the thing thus far eminently successful, the Professor, or empiric, assigned weekly meetings to the non-existent Society, at all of which, as a matter of course, he himself was the principal speaker; and on no occasion did he omit to pay some high-flown compliments to his friend the editor. Week after week did the reports of the proceedings of this distinguished philosophical society appear in the Morning Intelligencer; and the result was [-101-] that though no one ever before heard the name of the Professor or his associates, every body concluded, that the former must be some great man, who, in verification of the remark of a Greek historian, that the greatest geniuses often lie concealed, had hitherto remained unknown to the world, in consequence of one of those capricious freaks in which dame Nature (alike regardless of the justice due to the illustrious parties themselves, and the honour and interests of mankind) occasionally delights to indulge herself.
The empiric having thus procured a publicity for his name which must have satisfied the most voracious appetite for newspaper notoriety, next bethought himself of the way in which he could convert his celebrity to the best pecuniary account. A bright thought :flashed across his mind. It was that the "friends of philosophy and admirers of science" constituting the imaginary Society of which the Professor was the distinguished president, should be made to concur in proposing to present him with an enduring [-102-] testimonial of their sense of the "important services he had rendered to literature, science, and philosophy." A resolution to this effect was accordingly reported to have been proposed and carried amidst tremendous applause, without a dissentient voice; and this too, at one of the most numerously-attended meetings of the society which had ever been held. It was further stated, that in order to allow other "friends of philosophy and admirers of science" who were not members of the V Society, but might be desirous of being allowed to express their sense of the Professor's services to science, by recording their names on the subscription list; it was, I say, agreed by the Society, that such persons should have an opportunity of gratifying their feelings by contributing to the testimonial fund. And in order that a good example might be set to all such persons, the members of the Society, not one of whom, be it ever remembered, but the Professor himself, had an existence, appended very handsome subscriptions to their respective names. A treasurer was duly ap-[-103-]pointed to receive the money, and to retain it until the society should determine on the nature of the testimonial to be presented to the Professor. This treasurer was none other than the quack himself, though of course under a fictitious name. The appointment of a secretary (also the quack himself,) followed, and the meeting agreed that a lithographed copy of the resolution should be forwarded by the secretary to "every known friend of science and philosophy in England," with a request that he would give a practical expression of his sense of the Professor's services to science, by subscribing to the fund. Many of the persons to whom the circulars were sent, knowing nothing more of science than of the Professor, and yet proud of the compliment paid to them by the assumption that they were the friends of philosophy and admirers of science, were prompt in forwarding their subscriptions "in aid of the fund for a testimonial to Professor ." The subscriptions, which were very considerable, being directed to be sent to his lodgings, addressed to an imaginary [-104-] treasurer, whom he christened Henry Blunt, Esq., found their way at once, as a matter of course, into the pockets of the Professor.
The ingenious device having thus succeeded to admiration in its most essential part, the next point for consideration related to the best way of satisfying subscribers, that their contributions were really applied to their legitimate purpose. How did the quack manage this? When I answer the question, the reader cannot fail as much to admire the amplitude of the empiric's mental resources, as he must be surprised at his boundless impudence.
He caused the pliant person already referred to, to draw up a report of the alleged proceedings at a pretended dinner, given by the subscribers to the Professor, for the purpose of presenting him with a splendid piece of plate; that having been deemed by the committee appointed to manage the matter, the most appropriate mode of perpetuating the deep sense they entertained of the eminent services he had rendered to literature, science, and philosophy. The attendance on the occasion [-105-] was represented as being numerous and respectable; and the Professor was made to appear as if surrounded by persons of marvellous scientific and philosophic attainments; while a gentleman, with a host of honorary initials appended to his name so numerous, indeed, as nearly to exhaust the alphabet, was voted to the chair amid deafening and universal acclamations. Dinner was of course served up in first-rate style; and the "usual loyal and patriotic toasts having been disposed of," the chairman intimated that it now became his delightful duty, placed as he was in the honourable position of chairman of the meeting, to proceed to the great business of the evening, namely, the presentation of the piece of plate lying on the table, to their distinguished guest, Professor . Of course the Professor . stood up, and hung his head with becoming humility, while the " friends of science and philosophy" were about to confer upon him so valuable a mark of their esteem. And to render the affair still more dramatic, the Professor's son a boy twelve years of age, was re-[-106-]presented as standing by the side of his scientific sire. The chairman, after some introductory flourishes, proceeded as follows: "Gentlemen, I now proceed, without further preface, to the discharge of the duty which you have done me the honour to delegate to me. And sure I am you will one and all concur in the truth and justice of what I say, when I mention, that never did a son of science better merit a testimonial from her admirers, than does our esteemed and distinguished guest that which we are about to present to him (loud cheers). Science and philosophy are under obligations to him which they never will be able to discharge (hear, hear). It has been reserved for him, by his profound researches and transcendent talents, not only to give the cause of science and philosophy a mighty impetus on its onward march, but to shed a brilliant lustre around those departments of intellectual investigation which have been heretofore the most obscure and least attractive. His name, gentlemen, will live as .long as English literature itself: [-107-] his is an imperishable renown; and the lapse of ages, so far from diminishing his celebrity, will increase and extend it (tremendous applause). It has already reached the remotest extremities of the civilized world, and will continue to spread as science and philosophy extend their empire over the face of the earth (renewed cheers). But, gentlemen, remembering as I do that I speak in our friend's presence, I feel the dictates of delicacy demand that I should restrain myself. Of his private virtues, I will say nothing more than this, that in all the relations of life; as a husband, father, and friend, and member of the great immortal family of man, he is most exemplary. I am sure, sir, that this splendid, though not more splendid than merited testimonial of your fellow countrymen's approbation and esteem (here the chairman addressed himself to the professor, and had his eye on the imaginary service of plate lying on the table) cannot fail to stimulate you to acquire, by fresh application to your soul-ennobling studies, still further distinction in [-108-] the regions of literature, science, and philosophy (hear, hear).
"And you, my dear boy " here the chairman laid his hand on the head of the empiric's son, and touchingly patted it "and you, my dear boy, will, I trust, whenever your eyes shall look on this handsome testimonial to your dear father, feel within your youthful bosom the workings of an honourable emulation the operations of a commendable ambition to tread in your parents footsteps, and"
Here the excess of the chairman's emotion obtained a temporary mastery over his power of utterance; the Professor himself buried his face in his handkerchief; tears rolled rapidly down the boy's cheeks; and every eye in the place was more or less moistened. The chairman, after the lapse of some seconds, triumphed over the unmanly ebullition, and resumed his addres. [-sic-]
"You will, I was about to say, my darling boy, feel, every time you look on this plate, the promptings of an earnest desire to acquire [-109-] for yourself, by following in the same paths as your distinguished parent, and devoting your days and nights to the elevated pursuits which have raised him to the proud position which he occupies in the estimation of the civilized world, a reputation as great as his. With these very imperfect observations, allow me, sir, (turning to the Professor,) to present you which I do with infinite pleasure with this proof of the esteem entertained for you personally by your fellow-subjects, and of the very deep sense they cherish of the eminent services which you have rendered to Science and Philosophy."
The most tremendous plaudits, which seemed as if they would never have an end, followed the conclusion of the chairman's speech and the presentation of the piece of plate.
The Professor was represented as rising to return thanks, but was so overpowered by his feelings, that he was unable to do anything but energetically press his hand to his heart, and to enunciate, amid rivers of tears, a few broken sentences expressive of gratitude.
[-110-] The meeting eventually broke up, after an evening remarkable for the "feast of reason and the flow of feeling" which characterized it.
Such was the tenor of the report which appeared next morning in the Morning Intelligencer
Each subscriber fancied that he was the only person absent; and the only drawback to the gratification with which he read the account of the way in which the affair paaaed off, was, that he had not been apprised of the dinner, so as that he might have had the pleasure of being present.
But what of the Professor now? Since practising the above ingenious and successful piece of empiricism, he has appeared before the public in every conceivable variety of character. Two or three years ago he became an apostle of tee-totalism, and visited different parts of the country for the purpose of lecturing in favour of an entire abstinence from spirituous liquors, and on the singularly salubrious qualities of cold water in its "aboriginal" state. This of course was at the expense [-111-] of the Abstinence Societies; but the supplies having somehow or other stopped, after several weeks' advocacy of the cause, he suddenly ceased to waste his eloquence on the merits of that cause. For anything he cared to the contrary, tee-totalism, the moment it failed to afford him pecuniary advantage, may have gone to the dogs or to any other quarter it pleased.
The next evolution of the professor, in his character of a quack, was in the capacity of a preacher of the Gospel. My readers may startle at this. It is nevertheless, melancholy though it be, a sober fact. And there is not the slightest infusion of fancy in the statement I am. about to make, namely, that when he had made up his mind to try what could be done in the assumed. character of a reverend gentleman, he felt at a loss to decide as to what denomination it would be best for him, in a pecuniary point of view, to profess to belong. He actually had the cool effrontery and the fearful mental profligacy, to ask a friend of mine, when [-112-] making known his ministerial intentions, what he deemed the section of Christians whom it would be most advisable to connect himself with. Curious to learn to what awful lengths the empiric was prepared to go, my friend asked him what he thought of appearing as preacher among the Wesleyan Methodists? He objected to any connection with that body, because he could not conceal from them the circumstance of his being no preacher at all. The peculiar organization of their society, and the rigid supervision observed over all the movements of their ministers, would render it impossible for him to practise the imposture, without detection, for many weeks. "The Baptists, then!" suggested the other. "The Baptists, The Professor had a high respect for the Baptists; there were many men of great moral worth and undoubted talent among them; but the prejudices in favour of infant baptism and sprinkling were too general and too strong to admit of their principles or themselves becoming extensively popular. "What do you say to [-113-] the Independents?" The Professor replied to the latter suggestion, that he certainly thought that body preferable to either of the other two which had been named; and accordingly made his election in its favor. In accordance with this choice, he actually forthwith proceeded to engage a chapel, and without any change in his name beyond the prefix of Rev., caused himself to be placarded through a great part of the metropolis as the Rev. A B minister of the Independent Chapel in T Street. In this locality, and this character, he continued, however, for only a limited time. He soon made the discovery that there was little chance of his acquiring either money or reputation in his capacity of a reverend gentleman, and, therefore, in nine or ten weeks, he abdicated his ministerial functions, forsook the Independent Chapel in T Street, and re-appeared in the newspapers as a person of high sounding scientific and philosophic attainments.
It so happened, however, that abstract science and philosophy however beautiful to his [-114-] poetic mind, somehow or other again lost all their more practical attractions. In other words, they could not be made pecuniarily productive, and consequently, it became necessary to have recourse to some other expedient. But what was that to be? After due consideration he decided in favour of coming forward in the capacity of a physician. Dubbing himself M.D., as well as Professor, he appeared in a twinkling in his medical character; and to give greater effect to his empiricism, he represented himself as the physician to an hospital which never existed. No sooner had he thus appeared before the public in the capacity of a full-fledged physician, than he offered to a brother empiric, who confined himself to the we of quack medicines, a most eulogistic recommendation of his pills, for the purpose of being inserted in all the newspapers with his name as an M.D., and physician to A Hospital appended to it. Of course he took care to stipulate for a due consideration. The proposal was accepted; the consideration, or at least a con- [-115-]sideration was given, and forthwith all the papers teemed with "powerful" recommendations of P's pills by the Professor. He declared in the advertisement that he had administered the pills to his patients, and in every instance with complete success, though the rogue never had a patient in his life.
But what is he doing at the present moment? I cannot answer the question, though I still observe his name figuring in the papers as the "Professor."
The last part he played which has come under my notice, was that of a begging letter writer. The Mendicity Society have in their possession a goodly number of his epistles, written in this character. Some of these have come under my observation, and are very curious in their way. I shall watch with peculiar interest the future movements of this Protean empiric.
There is a species of Quacks much more numerous than is generally supposed, to whom I have not yet alluded, but who are deserving of a cursory notice. I refer to those who [-116-] practise their empirical tricks from a pure love of notoriety which they mistake for celebrity without the alloy of a single sordid consideration. Nor am I doing them full justice when I make this admission in their favour; for a variety of instances consist with my own knowledge, in which these persons have not only proved themselves to be far above the ignoble influences of pecuniary gain, but in which, though very unable to afford it, they have generously incurred a very considerable amount of pecuniary expenditure in their efforts to realise their aspirations after distinction. I know one prominent member of the empirical fraternity who has so unreservedly abandoned himself to the consuming desire to see his name in the public journals, that he has for some years been in the habit of expending considerable sums of money, by paying for paragraphs in the editorial form, containing complimentary allusions to his name; while his wife and family have actually been suffering day after day a privation of the ordinary necessaries of life. As regarded himself, he [-117-] would at any time cheerfully submit to the greatest bodily penances, provided he could thereby insure the appearance of his name in the newspapers. The passion for notoriety is with him a positive mental disease. He hungers for it with as eager a desire, as the most ravenous appetite does for physical food. It is a sort of necessity of his moral nature. It is as indispensable to his moral being as ordinary food is to his bodily constitution. It is, to give a new application to the well known lines of Junius, "like the air he breathes, if he had it not, he would die." In the execution of his plans for procuring this perpetual publicity to his name, he often displays very considerable ingenuity. He represents himself at one time as the chairman of meetings which were never held; and at another, as making speeches at places and on occasions which never had any other existence than that ascribed to them by his own fertile imagination. Sometimes he appears as' " expressing his grateful acknowledgments" for votes of thanks passed to him by public bodies-of men; [-118-] these bodies existing only in the paper on which he writes their designations. On frequent occasions he repudiates in the newspapers, the authorship of anonymous works of merit, which he assumes to have been ascribed to him, though the cunning rogue knows full yell that no person would any more think of ascribing such authorship to him than they would of affiliating on any sweeper of the street, the Waverly Novels, supposing the authorship of that series of splendid fictions to have been still enshrouded in mystery. On various occasions, he has appeared before the public as a person of singular humanity, from the deep interest he has taken in people who have unfortunately met with some severe accident. In short, there is no end to the expedients which his ingenuity devises for getting his name kept permanently before the public .
And yet, great in this respect as his ingenuity is, he has a rival for notoriety who is far more successful in the prosecution of his aims. The scheme of the latter is simple, and [-119-] has the further merit of being attended by no expence. His plan for procuring perpetual publicity for his name, is that of attending all public meetings and invariably moving an amendment to the ostensible business for the promotion of which the meeting has assembled. The amendments always propose the very opposite of the resolutions which the meeting mean to adopt. Of course he never has a seconder: in fact he does not wish one; for in that case the chairman would require to put the amendment from the chair, which being negatived by every body present, would have the effect of peaceably disposing of his opposition, which would not at all suit his purpose. He wants the genuine and thorough notoriety which results from throwing the meeting into confusion, by persisting in his amendment, though not seconded; and in that object he succeeds to an extent which one would suppose would satiate the most craving appetite for what he calls distinction. I have seen this person time after time, create, by his amendments and his speeches scenes of [-120-] downright disorder in meetings consisting exclusively of noblemen and gentlemen of the highest respectability. His purpose is thus accomplished in a double sense; he renders himself abundantly notorious to all present; and next morning his happiness is consummated, by seeing his name in the various journals as having created a disturbance at a particular place and interrupting the proceedings of the meeting. He thus invariably succeeds in his object, while the rival to whom I have alluded, sometimes fails in his. Nor ought I to omit to mention this other very material advantage which the "amendment" quack possesses over his rival empiric, namely, that while the latter is often obliged to pay for his notoriety, the former accomplishes his object without the expenditure of a farthing.