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The Age of Humbug

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  • Sharon <brighttigress@yahoo.com>
    (This editorial originally appeared in the Little Rock National Democrat, F= ebruary 4th, 1865, author C.W. Meador.)A vintage whine: The Age of Humbug
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2003
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      (This editorial originally appeared in the Little Rock National Democrat, F=
      ebruary 4th, 1865, author C.W. Meador.)

      A vintage whine: The Age of Humbug

      Humbug.

      The Boston Pilot, in one of its clever editorials, lately characterized thi=
      s as the age of humbug. Says the editor: "We are living in the age of humbug=
      . Humbug has entered into all the affairs of life." This, with due respect, =
      is, in good part, humbug.

      Every now and then, editors, in different localities ... tell us that this =
      is the age of brass, or the age of progress, the age of steam, the age of fr=
      eedom, or some other kind of age, about all of which there is a great deal o=
      f humbug. The past century had as much proportionate progress as the present=
      has. The next century will have its relative degree of progress.

      Probably, in the year 2000, men will correspond with each other though at o=
      pposite extremities of the globe, by some spiritual means.

      The air will then be traversed as land and water now are. By some newly dis=
      covered terrible forces whole armies can be destroyed at a blow. Science wil=
      l have unlocked many of her numerous stores. We will be looked upon as poor =
      benighted people of a twilight age cackling over such primary discoveries as=
      the telegraph, steam power, photography and monitors*.

      There may be more chivalry in one age; more steam in another; more freedom =
      in another, and even a greater degree of progress in another. But humbug is =
      common to all ages and to all claims. It is in proportion to the number of h=
      uman beings, whether they are savages or highly civilized.

      Humbug pervades religion, morals, science; in fact, all that men do, or say=
      , or think. The medicine man of the savage, and the very reverend of the fas=
      hionable church are all tinctured with humbug.

      The barbarian herbalist who uses his charms or poultice of bruised leaves, =
      and the graduated practitioner who writes his prescription in the dog latin =
      of the apothecaries are, to the same extent, humbugs. The patent medicine ma=
      n, who has a specific for all ailments has his counterpart in the poor savag=
      e who believes his medicine store, or amulet, or juices of some herb, will h=
      eal all diseases. Religion has its hypocrites; patriotism its pretenders; sc=
      ience its charlatans; medicine its quacks, and all things their humbugs. Say=
      s Hudibras: "Doubtless the pleasure is as great, In being cheated as to chea=
      t."

      There is a vast deal of truth in these lines. Men like to be humbugged.

      The worst and bitterest enemies we ever made were those when we showed them=
      that they had been humbugged.

      They were more ready to forgive the one who cheated them, than we, who had =
      exposed the cheat. It is human nature to be angry when a man discovers he ha=
      s been making a fool of himself, and especially to be angry at the friend wh=
      o tried to prevent him from being bamboozled.

      The world is governed by humbug, from great things to small. Solomon sums u=
      p human life, after tasting power and pleasure, and with the greatest means =
      of the world at his command, as "vanity of vanities," which phrase may be co=
      mpressed into the one word — humbug.

      All great events in history were humbugs. The siege of Troy was a humbug. T=
      he crusades were a gigantic humbug. Wars are grand humbugs. Some humbugging =
      love affair; some trivial question as to the humbug of rank; some humbug int=
      erpretation of a letter or speech, has set kingdoms at war and changed the c=
      urrent of events. In matters of science — even the most exact ones — humbug =
      flourishes.

      Astrology, that for centuries employed so much learning, turns out to be a =
      humbug. The philosopher's stone is ditto. Sorcery, divination, witchcraft an=
      d the thousand beliefs of the middle ages, were all humbugs. The world likes=
      to be humbugged.

      Humbug, an expressive English word, is not so much a form of falsehood, or =
      another name for untruth. It is that species of falsehood by which men are i=
      mposed upon. But, of all its forms, none is worse than where the humbugger h=
      umbugs himself.

      When the courtesan persuades herself that she is virtuous, or as much so as=
      other women; when the rogue convinces himself that he is honest; the hypocr=
      ite that he is religious at bottom; the demagogue that he is a patriot, and =
      the fool that he is wise, then it becomes mischievious [sic] as well as disg=
      usting.

      ---------------------

      Same old, same old, isn't it? BTW, *"monitors" refers to ironclad warships=
      , not computer monitors.

      2003!!! Who would have believed it!!!!

      I just had a great idea!! It won't take long, and it'll save a lot of trou=
      ble - I think I'm going to get out my checkbook and just write "2003" on my =
      checks right now!!!

      Hugs,

      Sharon
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