Page:All the Year Round - Series 1 - Volume 1.djvu/15
Charles Dickens.] [April 30, 1859.] 7
SURE TO BE HEALTHY, WEALTHY, AND WISE.
sented gratis, on the "Management of the Human Hair." Apparently, there had been peculiarities in my handwriting which had betrayed to the unerring eye of the Graphiologist, that my hair was not totally free from defects; and the pamphlet was a delicate way of hinting at the circumstance, and at the remedial agents to which I might look for relief. But this is a minor matter, and has nothing to do with the great triumph of Graphiology, which consists in introducing us to ourselves, on terms that make us inestimably precious to ourselves, for the trifling consideration of fourteenpenn'orth of postage stamps. To a perfectly unprejudiced—that is to say, to a wisely credulous mind—such a science as this carries its own recommendation along with it. Comment is superfluous except in the form of stamps transmitted to the Graphiologist. I may continue the record of my personal experiences.
Having started, as it were, afresh in life, with a new and improved opinion of myself—having discovered that I am clever in whatever I undertake, kindly, original, vivacious, full of glee and spirit, and that my few faults are so essentially modest and becoming as to be more of the nature of second-rate merits than of positive defects I am naturally in that bland and wisely contented frame of mind which peculiarly fits a man to undertake the choice of his vocation in life, with the certainty of doing the fullest justice to himself. At this new point in my career, I look around me once again among my sceptical and unhappy fellow-mortals. What turbulence, what rivalry, what heart-breaking delays, disappointments, and discomfitures do I not behold among the disbelievers in advertisements—the dupes of incredulity, who are waiting for prizes in the lottery of professional existence! Here is a man vegetating despondingly in a wretched curacy; here is another, pining briefless at the unproductive Bar; here is a third, slaving away his youth at a desk, on the chance of getting a partnership, if he lives to be a middle-aged man. Inconceivable infatuation! Every one of these victims of prejudice and routine sees the advertisements—as I see them. Every one might answer the following announcement, issued by a disinterested lover of his species—as I answer it:
"Ten Pounds Weekly. May be permanently realised by either sex, with each pound expended. Particulars clearly shown that these incomes are so well secured to those investing that to fail in realising them is impossible. Parties may commence with small investments, and by increasing them out of their profits, can, with unerring certainty, realise an enormous income. No partnership, risk, liability, or embarking in business. Incontestable authorities given in proof of these statements. Enclose a directed stamped envelope to," &c. &c.
All this information for a penny stamp! It is offered—really offered in the terms quoted above—in the advertising columns of half the newspapers in England; especially in the cheap newspapers, which have plenty of poor readers, hungry for any little addition to their scanty incomes. Would anybody believe that we persist in recognising the clerical profession, the medical profession, the legal profession, and that the Ten-Pounds-Weekly profession is, as yet, unacknowledged among us!
Well, I despatch my directed envelope. The reply is returned to me in the form of two documents, one lithographed and one printed, and both so long that they generously give me, at the outset, a good shilling's worth of reading for my expenditure of a penny stamp. The commercial pivot on which the structure of my enormous future income revolves, I find, on perusal of the documents—the real documents, mind, not my imaginary substitutes for them—to be a "Fabric"—described as somewhat similar in appearance to "printed velvet." How simple and surprising! how comprehensive and satisfactory especially to a poor man, longing for that little addition to his meagre income! The Fabric is certain to make everybody's fortune. And why? Because it is a patent Fabric, and because it can imitate everything, at an expense of half nothing. The Fabric can copy flowers, figures, landscapes, and historical pictures; paper-hangings, dress-pieces, shawls, scarfs, vests, trimmings, book-covers, and "other manufactures too numerous to detail." The Fabric can turn out "hundreds of thousands of articles at one operation." By skilful manoeuvring of the Fabric "ninety per cent, of material is saved." In the multitudinous manipulations of the Fabric and this is a most cheering circumstance—"sixty veneers have been cut to the inch." In the public disposal of the Fabric—and here is the most surprising discovery of all—the generous patentee (who answers my application) will distribute its advantages over the four quarters of the globe, in shares–five-shilling shares—each one of which is "probably worth several hundred pounds." But why talk of hundreds? Let clergymen, doctors, and barristers talk of hundreds. The Ten-Pounds-Weekly profession takes its stand on the Fabric, and counts by millions. We can prove this (I speak as a Fabricator) by explicit and incontrovertible reference to facts and figures.How much (the following illustrations and arguments are not my own: they are derived entirely from the answer I receive to my application) how much does it cost at present to dress a lady, shawl a lady, and bonnet a lady; to parasol and slipper a lady, and to make a lady quite happy after that, with a porte-monnaie, an album, and a book-cover? Eight pounds—and dirt cheap, too. The Fabric will do the whole thing—now that "sixty veneers have been cut to the inch," mind, but not before—for Two pounds. How much does it cost to carpet, rug, curtain, chair-cover, decorate, table-coyer, and paper-hang a small house? Assume ruin to the manufacturer, and say, as a joke, Ten pounds. The Fabric, neatly cutting its sixty veneers to the inch, will furnish the house, as it furnishes he lady, for Two pounds. What follows?