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in the attempt, were driven to get others to do the business for them. Scores of those volumes were thus written by scribblers who knew nothing of the curative science, under the direction of their medical employers; and this system of vicarious authorship still goes on.
Calling the other day on our friend Spiller, who knows everything, for a little information on an abstruse subject, we found him up to the eyes in heavy volumes handsomely bound, and scribbling away, early in the morning, as if for dear life.
"Cut it short, my dear fellow," he said; "I am over the ears in business: the Greeks did eat mustard with ham, if that's all you want to know; you'll find an allusion to it in Aristophanes, I think—but I can't stop to look now."
"Why, what's the matter? You seem quite excited." "The matter! Why, M'Stickit has been here—you know I did his Kidneys for him. I'm now going in for the Mucous Membrane, if you know what that is. See what a cart-load of books the fellow has sent, and more are coming. He thinks I'm going to read through the lot, I supposeknow a better trick than that. He wants the book out by the end of the month-300 pages at least-he stumped up like a Trojan (here Spiller showed a handful of notes); and I shall walk into it."
And Spiller was "walking into it" at the rate of forty pages a day. We don't happen to be in his secret, and cannot therefore testify as to the mode in which he got through with the business; but the Mucous Membrane is already out, though seven weeks have hardly elapsed since he commenced the attack; and M'Stickit, amazingly proud of it, is pushing it right and left among his patients.
It is not necessary to say that volumes of this peculiar class add little or nothing to the general store of knowledge on medical subjects: but, at the same time, it would not be altogether just to infer that their reputed authors are
mere professional pretenders. There is many a clever practitioner well versed in the treatment of disease, whose skill may snatch a patient from the jaws of death, who yet would be exceedingly puzzled to write a book; and a melancholy experience sometimes shows us, on the other hand, that medical professors of high literary standing will blunder fatally in the practical details of their art. The printing and circulation of these books is one of the expensive vanities for which fashion has to answer.
The last specimen of lurking literature to which we shall allude is a periodical work, to which we shall give the name of the Black Book. This is a work of portentous importance and signification, of which ninety-nine out of a hundred of our readers have never had a sight, and of which, moreover, let them labour to that end as they may, they will never succeed in getting a glimpse. Who are its editor, printer, and publisher, we cannot say the whole business is got through with a secrecy as marvellous as the appearance and clandestine distribution of the work itself are regular. What is the extent of its circulation no man knows, but it must be considerable, for the expense of its production is great; yet so far are the proprietors from making any attempt to push it with the public, that its very existence is guarded as a secret from all but the subscribers, and if inquiry is made for it by a stranger, it is universally ignored. The reason is, that every line of the book is a libel-all the more offensive and hateful, in that every line is also a truth. The Black Book is, in a word, a comprehensive register, inexorably posted up day by day, of every man and woman in the metropolis who has ever been known to break faith, through either vice, imprudence, or misfortune, in a monetary matter. The register dates, to our own knowledge, to ten years back, and very probably to twice that period. To the merchant, the man of business, and the speculator, it is an invaluable record of commercial character, because it is a
general directory of defaulters under all the phases in which default is possible. Every bankrupt's commercial history, with all the particulars interesting to a creditor, is down at full length: the amount for which he failed-the amount of his assets the cause of failure, whether extravagance, speculation, decline of business, or the failure of others—the amount of the dividend he paid—whether he got a certificate, if so, whether or not his certificate was opposed, and what class certificate he did get. Then there is a compendious catalogue of names in close columns, with their addresses, of all sham and shuffling and failing securities, whether to loan societies-these alone amounting to many thousands- or to credit transactions in any shape. There is the endless list of all those who have ever dishonoured a bill, with its amount, the date of its notification, and whether it was eventually discharged or not; and of all those who have given a bill of sale or a power of attorney upon their property. There is analogous information of every kind respecting the constitution of companies, the cash character of their promoters, agents, and responsible parties,-in short, there is every item and atom of intelligence that can possibly be derived from public documents and the most rigid private investigation, which may prove serviceable to business-houses by enabling them to distinguish, so far as that can be done by the teachings of experience, between men of substance and character and men of straw and no character. The Black Book is thus a book of doom to multitudes who know nothing of its existence, and who would be horror-struck if they were to see, after the lapse of years, the figure they cut in its columns. The uses of the book are obvious, and, managed as it is, with a circulation strictly guarded and private-for not a leaf of it is ever exposed to view, even to the most prying eye-it is, in our opinion, a perfectly justifiable document. The knowledge that such a compilation exists need not,
however, be kept a secret. The trading and speculating world will manage their affairs none the worse for knowing that a watchful eye marks their operations, and will assuredly chronicle their breaches of faith. The consciousness of this fact will be a timely providence to more than a few, and it may explain to some the mystery of that uniform repulse they meet with in their attempts to raise the wind by the most promising schemes. As a commercial people, we have latterly become shamefully insensible to the moral delinquency that too frequently marks commercial failure. The most infamous frauds are practised and, at least legally, countenanced in the way of business—frauds which in other European countries would be punished by exile or condemnation to the galleys. Whole families are reduced to beggary through putting faith in the plausible lies of unprincipled traders-who "smash" suddenly through some desperate attempt to get rich-pay a shilling in the pound —are whitewashed a month or two after in the Bankruptcy Court, and set free to commence the experiment over again. Trade has grown into a gambling game-the chief difference being that the debts are not debts of honour. Why should not the trading gambler know, that if he fails to pay the stakes he will be posted in perpetuity?
We write upon the eve of quarter-day, and as it happens to be the Midsummer quarter that is impending, we are reminded by demonstrations at this season, always very numerous, and which meet us as we walk the streets, that a· pretty large section of the London population are about changing their abodes, or are even now in the very act of so doing. First, there is the sudden apparition of "This house to let enquire within," or somewhere else, stuck into parlour and drawing-room windows, or mounted on a board in the front garden. Then there is the spectacle of respectable fathers of families, or agitated young wives, flitting backwards and forwards like unquiet phantoms, and turning their heads constantly on this side and that, in search of a new domicile.
Again, there are those long ominous-looking vans, upon whose fronts are inscribed the words " Goods removed," either standing open-mouthed at the greengrocers' doors, with their shafts reared perpendicularly like rampant skeleton arms, or their cavernous throats filled with the household goods of a migrating family, creaking slowly along the highway on the route to a new domestic retreat. These outward signs, which we cannot escape if we would, forcibly recall to our recollection the events of that last flitting, when, leaving the southern banks of the Thames, we took our flight northwards, to the suburban precints of merry Islington.
First came the preparations for the event, which preparations consisted of no end of packing and bundling, sorting, arranging, and rejecting, all accompanied with so many