The Comedian strolled along the High Street, and stopped before a stationer's shop, at the window of which was displayed a bill, entitled,
GATESBORO' ATHENÆUM AND LITERARY INSTITUTE.
LECTURE ON CONCHOLOGY,
By Professor Long,
Author of "Researches into the Natural History of Limpets."
Waife entered the shop, and lifted his hat,—"Permit me, sir, to look at that hand-bill."
"Certainly, sir; but the lecture is over; you can see by the date: it came off last week. We allow the bills of previous proceedings at our Athenaeum to be exposed at the window till the new bills are prepared,—keeps the whole thing alive, sir."
"Conchology," said the Comedian, "is a subject which requires deep research, and on which a learned man may say much without fear of contradiction. But how far is Gatesboro' from the British Ocean?"
"I don't know exactly, sir,—a long way."
"Then, as shells are not familiar to the youthful remembrances of your fellow-townsmen, possibly the lecturer may have found an audience rather select than numerous."
"It was a very attentive audience, sir, and highly respectable: Miss Grieve's young ladies' (the genteelest seminary in the town) attended."
Waife. "Highly creditable to the young ladies. But, pardon me, is your Athenaeum a Mechanics' institute?"
Shopman. "It was so called at first. But, somehow or other, the mere operatives fell off, and it was thought advisable to change the word 'Mechanics' into the word 'Literary.' Gatesboro' is not a manufacturing town, and the mechanics here do not realize the expectations of that taste for abstract science on which the originators of these societies founded their—"
Waife (insinuatingly interrupting). "Their calculations of intellectual progress and their tables of pecuniary return. Few of these societies, I am told, are really self-supporting: I suppose Professor Long is!—and if he resides in Gatesboro', and