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lost my appetite," said he, in great alarm. “All the better," was the blunt reply; "you'll be sure to die if you recover it."
Another celebrated practitioner, when dealing with sham invalids, used invariably to prescribe a dose of common salt. The nature of what he called a sovereign remedy for every complaint under heaven, he concealed by calling it by its scientific name. "My dear madam," he would say, "all you have to do is to ask your chemist to make up this prescription, which merely contains muriate of soda, and dissolve one half-teaspoonful in a quart of rain-water, and take a teaspoonful twice a day."
The lady followed the advice thus given, and, strange to say, after a few doses was entirely cured of her ailments, and recommended it to others as a Who can doubt the
specific in all similar cases.
power of the imagination.
Leisure is time for doing something useful; this leisure the diligent individual obtains, the lazy one never. A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two different things.
Making allowance, however, for the general increase of wealth, the well-to-do people of to-day are, I think, little if any worse than their predecessors. In any case many of the denunciations hurled at them are too severe.
Modern society, as we all know, is constantly being attacked for its frivolity, its heartlessness, and its indifference as regards morals, which are un
favourably contrasted with those of the same section of people during the Victorian age. If, however, anyone cared to study the Law Court Reports which appeared in the newspapers at that period, they would, I am almost certain, discover that, in this respect, things were pretty much the same, indeed they might even appear to have been worse. But against this it must be remembered that, in such matters, a good deal more reticence is now observed. Again, the vast changes in the composition of Society of which we hear so much are, in all probability, a good deal exaggerated, the truth being that they are merely a little more obvious, that is all. I believe that, if one were to take the trouble to read the files of the "Morning Post " and of the "Times" of sixty or seventy years ago and the lists of the prominent guests at the great parties, comparatively little difference would be found in the class of people that went to them. A particularly striking feature is that, at the parties given in 1849 and for some years afterwards, one-half of those present seem to have been Railway Promoters-Queen Victoria herself, I believe, was once entertained by Hudson, the Railway King. The latter, having been run after by everybody, eventually came to great grief.
In the plenitude of his power he was overwhelmed by testimonials, so much so, indeed, that a satirist, marking the behaviour of the various companies, proposed "A Mutual Piece of Plate Presentation Society," whereof every member subscribing the
expected sum should have, in rotation, the usual handsome epergne, tea-set, or candelabrum. benevolent scheme, unfortunately for the silversmiths, never came to anything.
A Peer who held ideas ahead of his age was Lord Churston, who, in 1858, declined to take shares in the Dartmouth and Torbay Railway, on the ground that no Member of Parliament should hold shares in any railway on which he may have to legislate.
Stock-jobbing in connection with railroads was then raging as a veritable mania, and it seems doubtful whether-making, of course, allowance for the vast increase of wealth which has since taken placeSociety ever had so much to do with it before or since. The craze lasted for about ten years, till, as almost invariably happens where speculation is concerned, everyone more or less had burnt their fingers. The railway mania was a disastrous phase similar to the one which followed the South African boom, which, whilst enriching a few individuals, ended in a disastrous slump.
Fortunes made in no time are like shirts made in no time; it's ten to one if they hang long together.
The reckless finance which prevailed reached its climax when, at a meeting of shareholders of what was then called the Eastern Counties Railway, the chairman, no less a person than Mr. George Hudson, "the Railway King," informed the assemblage that he deemed it quite the right thing to pay dividends out of capital-"It made matters pleasant."
When people had recovered from the craze of railroad speculation they began to look around for the causes which had ruined so many.
The chief factors which contributed towards disaster were said to have been palatial stations and termini, the plunder of lawyers, and the formation of non-paying branch lines upon a principle of competition, speciously described as "commanding a country district," so as to prevent it falling into the "system" of another company. The confidence of the public in the security of railway property was sadly shaken by these occurrences, and thus even those companies which had no share in these proceedings did not escape the effects of the general distrust.
Much too pessimistic an outlook is taken concerning various things, which, far from being decadent, are really more flourishing than ever before.
A characteristic feature, for instance, is the enormous increase in facilities for popular amusement. Formerly people of small means very seldom went to the theatre-a great change from to-day when practically every one goes. Whilst the poorer classes now have numberless forms of recreation which their forefathers never dreamt of, the pastimes of the rich still flourish as of yore.
Sport, which we are sometimes told stands in great danger of disappearing, has in reality increased to an enormous extent. Fishing has increased a hundredfold in a hundred years. A salient proof
THE INCREASE OF SPORT
of this is that the so-called "idle rich" now fish rivers in Scotland which were not thought worth paying anything for comparatively few years ago.
As regards shooting, its increased popularity is obvious, and may be realized from the fact that the amount of game shot in the three kingdoms every year is fifteen times what it was in 1860. On the other hand, the methods employed are not as sportsmanlike in the true sense of the word as in the old days before battue-shooting and partridge-driving produced an era of huge bags.
As regards hunting, which old-fashioned people declared was seriously threatened by the spread of railways, steam has vastly increased the facilities for locomotion, enabling hunting men to go all over the country as they never could do before; indeed, a serious danger is the large amount of people who attend the meets of favourite packs, and the number of which is much larger than it was in the past.
The conveniences of everyday life have been enormously improved; the present generation has no idea how gloomy and dark the streets of London used to be at night. Instead of the murky gloom which used to prevail on winter evenings, the metropolis now fairly blazes with electric light.
In the way of lighting, old London, I think, was always better off than Paris, which, until the end of the eighteenth century, was lit during only nine months of the year, and then only in the absence of moonlight. Louis XVI it was who decreed its