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A FRAGMENT FROM THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A DUCK.
SOME men are said to make "ducks and drakes of their fortune; my provident master, on the contrary, made his fortune of ducks and drakes.
A large weedy pond on the borders of his little patrimony was the scene of my youthful pleasures. The place was surrounded by sedgy banks, agreeably shaded by willows which they call "weeping," although I can assert, from personal observation, that they never added a single tear-drop to our aquatic demesne. People may cry them up," but they never cry themselves.
In a snug nest on the borders of this secluded place I first "saw the light," with eight brothers and sisters. Led by our dear mother, we might be seen on our birthday rushing instinctively towards the cooling element, as bright and yellow as a new issue of gold from the Bank!
My mother was congratulated upon the appearance of her family by all except an old duck, who was dabbling solitarily in the distance. "That old duck in the weeds yonder," observed my mother, “is a widow; she has lately lost her drake, and feels no sympathy in
my pleasure." We rapidly gained strength, and were soon able to provide for ourselves; in fact, no family ever went on more swimmingly. We were very gay, and sported about with all the heedlessness of youth during the day; and in the evening, harboured by her downy breast, we lay as snug as a little fleet in Brest harbour !
One day, in the midst of our pastime, the whole community was thrown into the utmost confusion by the bark of a dog, and the next minute the monster leaped into the water.
My mother, with her usual presence of mind, dived; and we, following her example, reached the opposite bank in safety. I do not know what might have been the consequences of this intrusion if our master and a friend had not arrived immediately, and expelled the dog, who went howling away to his owner, a shabbygenteel fellow who appeared on the opposite bank to our asylum; and so the affair ended with our master beating the dog, and our beating a retreat.
"Do you know that fellow ?" inquired our master. "Oh! very well," replied his friend: "'tis Tim Consol, the stockbroker; I suppose he wanted a pair of 'white ducks,' for he is very much out of feather.' What a dabbler' he has been! You know that he is a lame duck, I suppose? Yes,―he lately waddled ; but, though a lame duck, he is a great bettor, and he still lays !"
"Do you hear that, my ducklings ?" said my mother; "that fellow is a bad character. There is no doubt, from what our master's friend asserts, that he is
a duck, and changed to a man for some sin he has committed. What a punishment! would give something to be afloat again."
I dare say he
"He cannot provide for his bills—" "Thank goodness, we can!" interjected my mother. "And so," continued our master's friend, "he is at present on the wing."
"Feeding on the air, I suppose," said my mother. "Having once lost his feet, he will never keep his head above water."
"No more should we !" sighed my mother. "Alas! he must have been a wild duck, indeed!"
"He used to take spirit with his water," continued the friend; "but now he takes it neat, and he must sink!"
"There's a lesson!" said my moralizing mother. "I wish all my children to be of the temperance society.' Never abandon the water. Take to the water with spirit, but never spirit with the water! I shall call a meeting to-morrow while this water's in my head, this moral, I mean; and, I have no doubt, my resolutions on the subject will be approved by an universal quack! I shall conclude my address by proposing this appropriate sentiment: May every duck die with water on his chest!"
OPINIONS OF THE "TIMES."
THE cobbler declares the times want "mending,"that his "little awl" is insufficient to support him, although he is the "last" to complain.
The watchmakers say their watches "don't go," and they shall be "wound up" if the "spring" does not produce a "movement." Even the undertakers complain that their trade is "dead;" and the little alebrewers that everything in their line is "flat, stale, and unprofitable." Cabinet-makers are compelled to return their bills to their "drawers ;" and chair-manufacturers vow they have not a "leg to stand on."
Bed-manufacturers say these are not times for "feathering their nests," and that they are obliged to "bolster up" their business by getting "tick" wherever they can.
The trunk-makers, when others talk of distress, hold up their hands and cry, they never saw such a deal,” and that they daily see more cases of distress than packing-cases!
The little wine-merchant declares, like the "cabinboy," that he is "wrecked in sight of port!"
The poulterer, that purchasing stock is really making "ducks and drakes" of his money, for all his customers are "on the wing."
The rope-maker finds "spinning a long yarn" as unprofitable as an author's writing "wonderful tales" without the prospect of a publisher, and thinks seriously of making a rope for himself.
The hackney-coachman says that the omnibuses have run away with his customers, and that his vocation is all at a stand!
Ask the market-gardener "How are turnips?" or "How are potatoes ?" and he answers that they are "Flat, very flat."
And thus it is with every calling and profession. Some have recourse to emigration, and, of course, many journey-men become travellers from necessity.
The philosophers say there is no such thing as colour; yet the times certainly look black, and everybody looks blue.
The want of money is undoubtedly universal, and the smallest change would be acceptable.