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Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, No. 441 Volume 17, New Series, June 12, 1852   By:

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No. 441. NEW SERIES. SATURDAY, JUNE 12, 1852. PRICE 1 1/2 d.


It is with a feeling doubtless somewhat analogous to that of the angler, that the London shopkeeper from time to time regards the moneyless crowds who throng in gaping admiration around the tempting display he makes in his window. His admirers and the fish, however, are in different circumstances: the one won't bite if they have no mind; the others can't bite if they should have all the mind in the world. Yet the shopkeeper manages better than the angler; for while the fish are deaf to the charming of the latter, charm he never so wisely, the former is able, at a certain season of the year, to convert the moneyless gazers into ready money customers. This he does by the force of logic. 'You are thinking of Christmas,' says he 'yes, you are; and you long to have a plum pudding for that day don't deny it. Well, but you can't have it, think as much as you will; it is impossible as you manage at present. But I'll tell you how to get the better of the impossibility. In twenty weeks, we shall have Christmas here: now if, instead of spending every week all you earn, you will hand me over sixpence or a shilling out of your wages, I'll take care of it for you, since you can't take care of it for yourself; and you shall have the full value out of my shop any time in Christmas week, and be as merry as you like, and none the poorer.'

This logic is irresistible. Tomkins banks his 6d. for a plum pudding and the etceteras with Mr Allspice the grocer; and this identical pudding he enjoys the pleasure of eating half a dozen times over in imagination before the next instalment is due. He at length becomes so fond of the flavour, that he actually we know, for we have seen him do it he actually, to use his own expression, 'goes in for a goose' besides with Mr Pluck the poulterer. Having once passed the Rubicon, of course he cannot go back; the weekly sixpences must be paid, come what will: it would be disgraceful to be a defaulter. So he practises a little self denial, for the sake of a little self esteem and the goose and pudding in perspective. He finds, to his astonishment, that he can do quite as much work with one pot of beer a day as he could with two, and he drops the superfluous pot, and not only pays his instalments to the Christmas bank, but gets a spare shilling in his pocket besides. Thus, under the tuition of the shopkeeper, he learns the practice of prudence in provisioning his family with plum pudding, and imbibes the first and foremost of the household virtues, on the same principle as a wayward child imbibes physic out of regard to the dainty morsel that is to come afterwards.

Passing one day last autumn through a long and populous thoroughfare on the southern side of the Thames, we happened to light upon Mr Allspice's appeal to the consciences and the pockets of the pudding eating public. 'If you are wise,' said the admonitory placard, 'you will lose no time in joining Allspice's Plum pudding Club.' Remembering the retort of a celebrated quack: 'Give me all the fools that come this way for my customers, and you are welcome to the wise men,' we must own we felt rather doubtful of the prosperity of the puddings; but having an interest in the matter, we resolved, notwithstanding, to ascertain, if possible, whether the Wisdom who uttereth her voice in the streets had on this special occasion spoken to any purpose, and whether any, and how many, had proved themselves wise in the acceptation of Mr Allspice. On making the necessary inquiries after the affair had gone off, we learned, to our surprise and gratification, that the club had been entirely successful. Upwards of a hundred persons of a class who are never worth half a crown at a time, had subscribed 6d... Continue reading book >>

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