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Present. But, your honor, what is to become of me meanwhile? You know that my moments are fleeting away, that my life is but a span, and that I shall never live to hear the end of this long story, much less answer it. I beseech your honor to take for granted all my venerable friend has to say, that I may reply before I give up the ghost.
Future. With all my heart, for I hate long stories. What say you, old gentleman?
Past, scratching his head, and somewhat puzzled. Why, please your honor, I confess I am so far behind the spirit of the age, and the march of mind, that I can't exactly understand how either you or my wise friend here can tell what I was going to say, before I have said it.
Future. Of a truth, my friend, having lived so long in this world, you must have marched a snail's pace, not to know a little more than you seem to do. Your friend here is acquainted, of course, with everything that has happened in the world since the creation of Adam, and it is equally certain that I shall know all that may happen in time to come, as well as all that is past. Why, then, should I waste my precious hours in listening to what I already know, or shall know in good time, without the assistance of either of you.
Past and Present, chaunting together in a duetto, accom panied by a grand harmony of discords by the orchestra and chorus. I insist on being heard. I will appeal to Posterity. Future. Posterity be hanged. Am not I its lawful representative, and the supreme judge between you two blockheads?
Past, apart to Present. Faith, this beats Young America. That same Justice Midas, with his asses' ears, and who may be said to be yet in the egg-shell, pretends to know more than you and I, though you are almost a hundred, and I more than six thousand years old.
Present. Ay, and what is still more presumptuous and insulting, he looks down upon me, who not only inherit all your knowledge, but have corrected all your errors, and more than quadrupled your wisdom, besides.
Past, waxing wroth. I deny your major, minor, and conclusion. Instead of inheriting all my knowledge, you have forgot more than one half, and turned your back on the experience of ages. If you have corrected any of my errors, it was only to substitute others still more absurd and pernicious; and as to adding to my wisdom, I should like to hear in what particular.
Present. Pray, old gentleman, were you not a supersti
tious old blockhead, believing in witch-craft and all that sort of nonsense? Did you ever discover any new planets, and did you not believe the sun revolved round them, instead of their revolving round the sun? Did you know anything about geology and world-making? and did you not believe it was made in six days by the hand of the Creator, instead of in a long series of ages, by the operations of nature? Did you not religiously believe that the miracle of the passage of the Red Sea was achieved by a direct interposition of Providence, instead of a change of the wind? If my time were not so precious, I could spend hours in enumerating the errors of which I have cured you.
Past. Yea, verily and no doubt the world is much the wiser and better for it. But go on, my wise friend, and tell us in what other points my ignorance consisted.
Present. Pray, sir, did you know anything of Craniology, Mesmerism, Clairvoyance, and Spiritual Knockings?
Past. To be sure I did. We used to call it witch-craft and necromancy, and ascribe to the devil what you now dignify with the name of science. Whatever may be said of your progress, I will venture to assert that there is not a single one of your pretended novelties in this line, which has not its prototype in my time. You only ascribe them to different causes; but the results are the same, and the errors still more mischievous from being shielded under the respectable mantle of science, which, instead of correcting the blunders of ignorance, is running mad, and every day adding to their number. In short, my friend, you have carried science to such an extreme, that, instead of resting on the solid basis of principles deduced from a series of facts amounting to demonstration, it has soared into the regions of imagination, and become more visionary than poetry itself. Your men of science, now-a-days, have ten times more fancy and invention than your poets.
Present. Pshaw! you are so far behind the spirit of the age, there is no use in arguing with you. Did you know anything of metallic pens, silver forks, self-sharpening pencils, steam-engines, locomotives, the higher law, and women's rights? In short, did you know anything of " Power"?
Past. I confess my ignorance. I always wrote with goosequills, never used a silver fork, and sharpened my own pencils. As to steam-engines and locomotives, I knew nothing of them, having never dealt in murder by wholesale, and all my ideas of power, beyond that of man, were limited to a Supreme Being, to whom I looked for the higher law. As to women's rights, I learned them from experience.
Present. Pish! You are always lugging in the Supreme Being. Were you not such a sheer ignoramus, you would know how to account for everything on scientific principles, and, like Homer, never invoke a superior power, but when pushed to the utmost extremity. You were a mere tyro in chemistry, and didn't know how to change green water into blue.
Past. But I knew something of alchemy.
Present. Yes, you were a great adept in making gold out of copper, iron, and brass.
Past. And you are a great manufacturer of gold out of rags. I confess my ignorance in that branch of business. But, on the whole, I think I was quite as usefully employed in transmuting metals, as you, who are such an adept in chemistry, when adulterating almost every article of food, and cheating your customers with deleterious poisons instead of wholesome nourishment.
Present. Poisons! It is a vile falsehood, and you are a calumniator. If it were not for your miserable superannuated debility of body, and still more miserable infirmity of intellect, I'd beat you into a mummy, though, for that matter, you are little better than one already.
Past, speaking very loud. You'd better try your hand at that my friend. Old as I am, I'm quite ready for you. Come on-and if I don't knock you into a cocked hat, say I'm a booby. I'll show you that, in this respect, I'm not behind the spirit of the age. Come on, I say, Mr. Young America.
[Here the orchestra strikes up a furious staccato, and the Judge, having fallen into a doze during the preceding colloquy, wakes up, rubs his eyes, and exclaims:]
Hallo! what is all this noise about? Who is guilty of this contempt of court? High Constable Hays, take him into custody and carry him to the tombs.
Past. Please your honor
Present. Please your honor
Future. Be quiet-it don't please my honor. What are you two blockheads quarreling about, hey? But now I recollect. You are disputing which is the greatest noodle, and have chosen me to decide the question. Well, here goes— [puts on his night-cap]. Listen, ye obsolete ideas.
Past and Present. But your worship has not heard the arguments.
Future. So much the better, as I shall then be perfectly impartial. Listen, ye culprits, to the decision of future ages, by their lawful representative. As to judging between you, that
is out of the question. You are both equally ignorant in comparison to what I shall be when I come to my inheritance, and I foresee I shall have enough to do in correcting your blunders. You, Mr. Past, are a superannuated blockhead; and you, Mr. Present, a premature puppy; and being so different, yet so nearly allied, you ought to agree together like honest Darby and Joan. You know nothing, and there is no use in disputing about nothing. Hays, take them away; the court is adjourned, sine die.
[Past and present being by this impartial decision placed on a par with each other, shake hands very cordially, and depart hugging each other_right_lovingly, while the orchestra and chorus strike up "Jump Jim Crow," in honor of their reconciliation. The scene closes, and the male and female amateurs commence practising Platonics.]
A CHAPTER OF POLITICAL ECONOMY.
I CONFESS my vanity was somewhat touched when my publisher refused to risk the cost of my great work on Political Economy, of which the reader is about to see one chapter. I believe I was getting somewhat angry, a very unwise thing in a philosopher,-when my commercial friend calmed me down by making an explanation:
"This is a most extraordinary work-a most extraordinary work, Mr. Goodfellow," said this worthy gentleman, "and perfectly unsalable. You have discussed Political Economy in a manner entirely unworthy of that noble science. You have displayed neither the technical profundity of Mill, nor the logical acumen of Ricardo, nor the dogmatical reiteration of Carey, nor the analytic calmness of Dryman. Your book is deficient in quotations, and there is not more than one "therefore" to the page. Then, too, where are your statistics? Where is your history of the first bargain, supposed to have been made between a savage and an agriculturist? Where is your theory of coin? Where is your estimate of the maximum and minimum of wages? You don't take sides with the capitalist, or with the operative. Now, if I were to write a book on this splendid science, I would take the part of the capitalist. Your vulgar reformers think they
are doing a very praiseworthy and politic thing, when they recommend increase of wages, and decrease of work. Nonsense! High wages and spare time breed extravagance. Low wages and constant employment make men industrious, and teach them economy. This is the true doctrine for you to preach. Write an essay in its favor, and I will engage to sell five thousand copies within the year. As for this manuscript," he continued, laying his hand on the vast pile of paper which I had submitted to his reader, "I couldn't afford to risk a cent on it, and I would advise you to be equally cautious."
"But, my dear Mr. Bookmore," I answered, in a tone of voice which I intended to be peculiarly solemn," that manuscript is the result of no less than fourteen years' labor. During the time in which I have been occupied upon it, I have re-cast it just twelve times, and have amplified it each time by nearly one quarter. I have written, in the meantime, as you know, for you have published them all, and have made money on the entire list, fourteen novels, one each year; eight plays; a volume of anonymous sermons, purporting to have been the work of an old divine, very salable; three neat volumes of poems, and a history of Napoleon Bonaparte, compiled from documents hitherto inaccessible to the public. I have also written fifty magazine stories, which have been a source of very little profit, most of the periodicals for which they were furnished having failed, and repudiated payment. But these have not taken away my attention from my great work, which I have at last brought to a harmonious completion. Now, is it right that so much labor should be sacrificed for want of a publisher public-spirited enough to undertake the issue of my masterly treatise for I will say this much for the work, although I am its author. Why, sir, you have published Pundit's Political Economy, Dryman's Malthusian Thesaurus for the use of Colleges, Dull's Reasonings on Labor, and Argenti's Thoughts on a Specie Basis, without demanding guaranties from their authors, and you have made money on all of them: and yet you refuse to publish my elaborate production, on which I have bestowed so much of the past fourteen years, and which I am not afraid to compare with any of the above mentioned works. It's inexplicable, sir, it's wholly inexplica
"Not a bit of it, Mr. Goodfellow, not a bit of it," responded the bookseller. Do you suppose that the men who buy books of Political Economy ever read them? Nonsense! They buy them for the purpose of deluding themselves and others