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Nuts and Nutcrackers   By: (1806-1872)

Nuts and Nutcrackers by Charles James Lever

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By Charles James Lever

"The world's my filbert which with my crackers I will open."


"The priest calls the lawyer a cheat, And the lawyer beknaves the divine; And the statesman, because he's so great, Thinks his trade 's as honest as mine."

Beggars Opera

"Hard texts are nuts (I will not call them cheaters,) Whose shells do keep their kernels from the eaters; Open the shells, and you shall have the meat: They are are brought for you to crack and eat."

John Bunyan.

Illustrated By "Phiz."

London: Chapman And Hall, 193 Piccadilly.


[Illustration: 018]


"An Opening Nut."

This is the age of popular delusions! Everybody endeavours to be somebody else, and everything is made to resemble something it is not. Every class and section of society seeks to mystify the other, and the whole world is masquerading it, very much it would seem to the whole world's delight. There are people who think the Tories consistent the Whigs honest and the Repealers respectable. Nothing too palpable in absurdity not to have its followers; nor does the ridicule cease with ourselves; but all who visit us catch the malady witness the Indian Chiefs, who called on Ben. D'Israeli, to see the style of life and habits of the English Aristocracy.

These things after all are but poor delusions little better than what the Wizard of the North calls "Parlour Magic," and might be left to time, to be laughed at, just like the French war clamour the O'Connell denunciation or the Young England discovery of the "pure 'Cocktailian' race." There are, however, other fallacies which from age and habit have gradually associated themselves with our social existence, and become, as it were, national. To disabuse the world of some of these, has been my object in the present little volume. To endeavour not only to show that we often

"Compound for sins we are inclined to, By damning those we have no mind to;"

but also, that our laws and institutions our manners and customs are based less upon principles of justice, than mere convenience and social advantage.

That such an undertaking will be graciously received or kindly acknowledged, I have never been able to persuade myself; no more than I feel disposed to believe, that hunger can be fed by Acts of Parliament; or starvation alleviated by Cricket or Jack in the bowl; however, it is my way of regenerating the land, and why should n't I "roll my tub" as well as my neighbours. Why I have given the volume its present title, would be perhaps more difficult to account for, save, that I have remarked on so many classes and gradations of people; and that, "Knocks" at our neighbours are generally "Nuts" to ourselves.

[Illustration: 021]

[Illustration: 022]


If Providence, instead of a vagabond, had made me a justice of the peace, there is no species of penalty I would not have enforced against a class of offenders, upon whom it is the perverted taste of the day to bestow wealth, praise, honour, and reputation; in a word, upon that portion of the writers for our periodical literature whose pastime it is by high flown and exaggerated pictures of society, places, and amusements, to mislead the too credulous and believing world; who, in the search for information and instruction, are but reaping a barren harvest of deceit and illusion.

Every one is loud and energetic in his condemnation of a bubble speculation; every one is severe upon the dishonest features of bankruptcy, and the demerits of un trusty guardianship; but while the law visits these with its pains and penalties, and while heavy inflictions follow on those breaches of trust, which affect our pocket, yet can he "walk scatheless," with port erect and visage high who, for mere amusement for the passing pleasure of the moment or, baser still, for certain pounds per sheet, can, present us with the air drawn daggers of a dyspeptic imagination for the real woes of life, or paint the most commonplace and tiresome subjects with colours so vivid and so glowing as to persuade the unwary reader that a paradise of pleasure and enjoyment, hitherto unknown, is open before him... Continue reading book >>

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