Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

depth in water, a floating plank is a lawful prize, and no one will find fault with him who struggles to secure it. The man who is on it may be filled with dismay as he feels his frail raft rudely grasped and risen upon by his companions in danger, but even he can scarcely say to his unfortunate fellows, “ Please let go, for the plank wont bear you.” The case is an extreme one, and if the generous maxim of Number One may be justified anywhere, it may be when we are all in imminent danger of going to the bottom, and there is only one slight plank to save us.

But this maxim of number one is carried a great deal too far, and into circumstances that are by no means critical. It was not particularly critical, for example, that you should lose the opportunity of hearing us preach to-day. We intend to preach rather frequently, and hope to be often before the public eye, and therefore you might have thought about one another a little more considerately, and not wrestled with each other as if you were struggling for some frail plank or other lifepreserver. Now that you are here, however, and have squeezed yourself in at some cost to your personal comfort and good manners, we will do our best to entertain you. Probably before we have done you may wish yourselves out again.

Number One, that's your maxim is it? What, in the name of all that's tasteful and sensible has made you fall so passionately in love with that perpendicular unit? There's nothing particularly ornamental in a post or in a row of posts. Unite them together with festoons of chains, or bring them into closer juxtaposition in the form of palings, or in some other way

that shall destroy their ugly isolation, and you

combine them in some form of beauty and usefulness. A solitary post is by no means pretty. The mast of a ship is not a beautiful object when it stands alone ; it wants to be relieved by the combination of yards, and ropes, and sails, to hide its too naked individuality. Of all the numbers in the decade, number one is the barest and the ugliest. It is the most upstart and self-conceited of all the figures. Every other figure curves and stoops and combines, as if in mockery and disdain of its rigid and unbending disposition. It stands alone a sulky disagreeable oddity.

its use.

It was in a vein of satirical humour, no doubt, and with the purpose of expressing profound moral contempt, that number one was originally used to express the pronoun I. Of all the personal pronouns, I is the most selfcontained and pompous. Like number one, it usurps the first place among its fellows. It calls itself the first person singular. We have a very profound contempt for this self-sufficient personal pronoun, and studiously avoid

It is another number one, which we must honestly tell you we cordially hate.

What think you then must be the feelings with which we contemplate you at this time? Huddled together though you are, there's not a point of mutual contact among the whole lot

You are all units, -ugly number ones; personal pronouns-- disagreeable first persons singular. You might as well be posts, -animated posts, posts with the faculty of knocking against and bruising one another. It is a kind wish—and we say it in the interest of social education and with an eye to your

individual improvement,—that you may often bruise each other well, and now and then, by

of you.

a

[ocr errors]

wares.

way of wholesome warning, break each others' heads.

Personally, you are a very small, insignificant class of people, like your representative pronoun

and
your

favourite number ; yet, like all little people, you take care to make the most of yourselves. Your fussiness and obtrusiveness are notorious. Everywhere the public is victimized by your intolerable presence. Really the human eye and brain have other objects and interests without being everlastingly bidden to look at and think of you and your particular

There's scarcely a yard of the good old-fashioned brick wall to relieve the eye and the mind of your ubiquitous personality. We can't look down even on the pavement, but there you are.

We verily believe you would label the sky if you could. Whether by road or rail there you are in some staring advertisement at every station and in every carriage. We are even haunted by you on our railway tickets, and are compelled to thrust you

in reticules and waistcoat pockets. We can neither walk, nor ride, nor sit down in peace for Your confounded names and trades, and the pictures of your gaudy shops are never

our

you.

out of our thoughts and memories. Your placards of all sizes and hues, have got into our inmost consciousness, and are photographed in our very souls. Inside and outside there is nothing for us but advertisements. We are absolutely overwhelmed with advertisements; we can read nothing else but advertisements, we feel as if we were fed on advertisements, we dream of advertisements, we shall certainly die of advertisements. It all comes of

your number one maxim, your conceited egoism,—your selfish individuality. Even number one itself has become an advertisement, as if the generality of people ever forget number one. Indeed most people know number one, it is the great cardinal number of the commercial world.

Your commercial selfishness, ye gaunt number ones, is sufficiently provoking. You are sent into this world not to have all life to yourselves, but to live and let live. There are space, and air, and light enough in this bright broad world for every one to move and breathe in, and to see and be seen. Pray let us think of number two sometimes and number three, and all the other numbers,-it would be positively refreshing. But no; everywhere, and

P

« AnteriorContinuar »