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Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 434 Volume 17, New Series, April 24, 1852   By:

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CHAMBERS' EDINBURGH JOURNAL

CONDUCTED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS, EDITORS OF 'CHAMBERS'S INFORMATION FOR THE PEOPLE,' 'CHAMBERS'S EDUCATIONAL COURSE,' &c.

No. 434. NEW SERIES. SATURDAY, APRIL 24, 1852. PRICE 1 1/2 d.

PUFF AND PUSH.

It is said that everything is to be had in London. There is truth enough in the observation; indeed, rather too much. The conviction that everything is to be had, whether you are in want of it or not, is forced upon you with a persistence that becomes oppressive; and you find that, owing to everything being so abundantly plentiful, there is one thing which is not to be had, do what you will, though you would like it, have it if you could and that one thing is just one day's exemption from the persecutions of Puff in its myriad shapes and disguises. But it is not to be allowed; all the agencies that will work at all are pressed into the service of pushing and puffing traffic; and we are fast becoming, from a nation of shopkeepers, a nation in a shop. If you walk abroad, it is between walls swathed in puffs; if you are lucky enough to drive your gig, you have to 'cut in and out' between square vans of crawling puffs; if, alighting, you cast your eyes upon the ground, the pavement is stencilled with puffs; if in an evening stroll you turn your eye towards the sky, from a paper balloon the clouds drop puffs. You get into an omnibus, out of the shower, and find yourself among half a score of others, buried alive in puffs; you give the conductor sixpence, and he gives you three pennies in change, and you are forced to pocket a puff, or perhaps two, stamped indelibly on the copper coin of the realm. You wander out into the country, but the puffs have gone thither before you, turn in what direction you may; and the green covert, the shady lane, the barks of columned beeches and speckled birches, of gnarled oaks and rugged elms no longer the mysterious haunts of nymphs and dryads, who have been driven far away by the omnivorous demon of the shop are all invaded by Puff, and subdued to the office of his ministering spirits. Puff, in short, is the monster megatherium of modern society, who runs rampaging about the world, his broad back in the air, and his nose on the ground, playing all sorts of ludicrous antics, doing very little good, beyond filling his own insatiable maw, and nobody knows how much mischief in accomplishing that.

Push is an animal of a different breed, naturally a thorough going, steady, and fast trotting hack, who mostly keeps in the Queen's highway, and knows where he is going. Unfortunately, he is given to break into a gallop now and then; and whenever in this vicious mood, is pretty sure to take up with Puff, and the two are apt to make wild work of it when they scamper abroad together. The worst of it is, that nobody knows which is which of these two termagant tramplers: both are thoroughly protean creatures, changing shapes and characters, and assuming a thousand different forms every day; so that it is a task all but impossible to distinguish one from the other. Hence a man may got upon the back of either without well knowing whither he will be carried, or what will be the upshot of his journey.

Dropping our parable, and leaving the supposed animals to run their indefinite career, let us take a brief glance at some of the curiosities of the science of Puffing and Pushing for both are so blended, that it is impossible to disentangle one from the other as it is carried on at the present hour in the metropolis.

The business of the shopkeeper, as well as of all others who have goods to sell, is of course to dispose of his wares as rapidly as possible, and in the dearest market. This market he has to create, and he must do it in one of two ways: either he must succeed in persuading the public, by some means or other, that it is to their advantage to deal with him, or he must wait patiently and perseveringly until they have found that out, which they will inevitably do if it is a fact... Continue reading book >>


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