By way of approving our conjecture, let us contrast the garments of the hour with those of England in the olden time—long ago, when boards smoked and groaned under a load of good things in every man’s house; when the rich took care of the poor, and the poor took care of themselves; when husband and wife married for love, and lived happily (though that must have been very long ago indeed); the athletic yeoman proceeded to his daily toil, enveloped in garments instinct with pockets. The ponderous watch—the plethoric purse—the massive snuff-box—the dainty tooth-pick—the grotesque handkerchief; all were accommodated and cherished in the more ample recesses of his coat; while supplementary fobs were endeared to him by their more seductive contents: as ginger lozenges, love-letters, and turnpike-tickets. Such were the days on which we should reflect with regret; such were the men whom we should imitate and revere. Had such a character as we have endeavoured feebly to sketch, met an individual enveloped in a shapeless cylindrical tube of pale Macintosh—impossible for taste—incapable of pockets—indefinite and indefinable—we question whether he would have regarded him in the light of a maniac, an incendiary, or a foreign spy—whether he would not have handed him immediately over to the exterminators of the law, as a being too depraved, too degraded for human sympathy. And yet—for our prolixity warns us to conclude—and yet the festering contagion of this baneful example is now-a-days hidden under the mask of fashion. FASHION! and has it indeed come to this? Is fashion to trample on the best and finest feelings of our nature? Is fashion to be permitted to invade us in our green lanes, and our high roads, under our vines and our fig-trees, without hindrance, and without pockets? For the sake of human nature, we hope not—for the sake of our bleeding country, we hope not. No! “Take care of your pockets!” is one of the earliest maxims instilled into the youthful mind; and emphatically do we repeat to our fellow-countrymen—Englishmen, take care of your pockets!
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[Illustration: C]Critics, as well as placemen, are occasionally sinecurists, and, like the gentlemen of England immortalised by Dibdin, are able, now and then, to “live at home at ease”—to dine (on dining days) in comfort, not having to rise from table to give authors or actors their dessert. This kind of novelty in our lives takes place when managers produce no novelties in their theatres; when authors are lazy, and actors do not come out in new parts but are contented with wearing out old ones—when, in short, such an eventless theatrical week as the past one leaves us to the enjoyment of our own hookahs, and the port of our cellar-keeping friends. The play-bills seem to have been printed from stereotype, for, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, they have never altered—since our last report.