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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 1, November 6, 1841,   By:

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VOL. 1.



The result of a serious conversation between the authors of my being ended in the resolution that it was high time for me to begin the world, and do something for myself. The only difficult problem left for them to solve was, in what way I had better commence. One would have thought the world had nothing in its whole construction but futile beginnings and most unsatisfactory methods of doing for one's self. Scheme after scheme was discussed and discarded; new plans were hot beds for new doubts; and impossibilities seemed to overwhelm every succeeding though successless suggestion. At the critical moment when it appeared perfectly clear to me either that I was fit for nothing or nothing was fit for me, the authoritative "rat tat" of the general postman closed the argument, and for a brief space distracted the intense contemplations of my bewildered parents.

"Good gracious!" "Well, I never!" "Who'd ha' thought it?" and various other disjointed mutterings escaped my father, forming a sort of running commentary upon the document under his perusal. Having duly devoured the contents, he spread the sheet of paper carefully out, re wiped his spectacles, and again commenced the former all engrossing subject.

"Tom, my boy, you are all right, and this will do for you. Here's a letter from your uncle Ticket."

I nodded in silence.

"Yes, sir," continued my father, with increasing emphasis and peculiar dignity, "Ticket the great Ticket the greatest"

"Pawnbroker in London," said I, finishing the sentence.

"Yes, sir, he is; and what of that?"

"Nothing further; I don't much like the trade, but"

"But he's your uncle, sir. It's a glorious money making business. He offers to take you as an apprentice. Nancy, my love, pack up this lad's things, and start him off by the mail to morrow. Go to bed, Tom."

So the die was cast! The mail was punctual; and I was duly delivered to Ticket the great Ticket my maternal, and everybody else's undefinable, uncle. Duly equipped in glazed calico sleeves, and ditto apron, I took my place behind the counter. But as it was discovered that I had a peculiar penchant for giving ten shillings in exchange for gilt sixpences, and encouraging all sorts of smashing by receiving counterfeit crowns, half crowns, and shillings, I received a box on the ear, and a positive command to confine myself to the up stairs, or "top of the spout department" for the future. Here my chief duties were to deposit such articles as progressed up that wooden shaft in their respective places, and by the same means transmit the "redeemed" to the shop below. This was but dull work, and in the long dreary evenings, when partial darkness (for I was allowed no candle) seemed to invite sleep, I frequently fell into a foggy sort of mystified somnolency the partial prostration of my corporeal powers being amply compensated by the vague wanderings of indistinct imagination.

In these dozing moods some of the parcels round me would appear not only imbued with life, but, like the fabled animals of Æsop, blessed with the gift of tongues. Others, though speechless, would conjure up a vivid train of breathing tableaux, replete with their sad histories. That tiny relic, half the size of the small card it is pinned upon, swells like the imprisoned genie the fisherman released from years of bondage, and the shadowy vapour takes once more a form. From the small circle of that wedding ring, the tear fraught widow and the pallid orphan, closely dogged by Famine and Disease, spring to my sight. That brilliant tiara opens the vista of the rich saloon, and shows the humbled pride of the titled hostess, lying excuses for her absent gems. The flash contents of that bright yellow handkerchief shade forth the felon's bar; the daring burglar eyeing with confidence the counsel learned in the law's defects, fee'd by its produce to defend its quondam owner... Continue reading book >>

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