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INTRODUCTION.

“ The gods of old were logs of wood,

And worship was to puppets paid ;
In antic dress the idol stood,

And priest and people bow'd the head.
“ No wonder, then, if art began

The simple votaries to frame,
To shape in timber foolish man,
And consecrate the block to fame. "

Swift.

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It is a reflection, hovering somewhere between laughter and tears, that the waifs and strays 'of man's invention should be among the most enduring of his works. One of the oldest monuments of human ingenuity we possess-older probably than the oldest pyramid—is a doll, the plaything of some nameless and forgotten infant of the House of Pharaoh. While the poets who sang before Homer, and the heroes who fought before Agamemnon, filling the world with their renown, have perished from remembrance, or, if they still survive, live only in impenetrable myths, like confused and unrecognizable shadows flickering on a wall, this human bauble, unearthed from the vast sepulchre of the desert

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sands, has preserved its frail mask to mock us with a fadeless smile.

“ Mentem mortalia tangunt.” Only the toys of children, it would seem, are indestructible. Sculptured urn and marble shaft may crumble into dust-the vast fabric of empire itself sink like the pageant of a dream into oblivion, but these pass from generation to generation, and from century to century, knowing little or no change in their immemorial tradition. And like to these, in character and kind, are the games and diversions of the people, who indeed are but the children of a nation. Of football or golf who can tell the beginnings? The rudiments of both are lost in the haze of eastern antiquity. So, too, of Punch, the king of the street corner, could he not boast a pedigree in puppetry many a peer might envy, the proudest hardly parallel ? And still we have him with us, a trifle battered and dilapidated it may be, but as truculent and boisterous as ever. His levees, which he holds right royally under the open canopy of the sky, as he has done any time in England these last two hundred years or more, are still attended by an illstarred and orderless but happy mob. His screeching voice and monstrous nose-or promontory rather, for its scale is geographical--are passports to public favour, as potent now as when of yore they were presented for the first time to a gaping and admiring throng. I confess I am of the mob's way of thinking. I find more genius and food for laughter in the mannikin's wooden noll and inarticulate drolleries than in any

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