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drawing them in again with a long suck of its breath, for all the world like a fellow-creature with a stitch in the side, or a spasm in his chest. The next haul we got nothing but lots of mud, a bit of sea-weed, a lump of coal, a rotten bung, and an old shoe. However, the third time the net felt heavy enough for a porpus, and sure enough on hauling it up to the top of the water, we saw some very large fish a-flopping about in it, quite as big as a grampus, only nothing like the species. Well, we pulled and hauled, Jack and I– (you remember Jack) — till we got the creature aboard over the bulwarks, and there it rolled on the deck, such a Sea Monster as never was seen afore nor since. It was full six feet long, with a round head like a man's, but bald,—though it had a beard and whiskers of sandy-colored hair. We could not see the face, by reason of the creature always hiding it with its paws, which were like a man's hands, only with a sort of web between the fingers. All the upper part of the body was of a flesh or salmon color down to the middle, where the skin became first bluer, and then greener and greener, as well as more rough and scaly, till the body forked off into two distinct fish's tails. “I’ll tell you what, master,’ says Jack Rogers, after taking a good look at the monster, and poking it about a bit with a handspike, ‘I'm blest if it is n’t a Cock Mermaid!’” “No doubt of it,” said the Vice. “To tell the truth,” said the President, “I had the same thought in my head, but was afraid to name it, because such animals have been reckoned fabulous. However, there it was on the deck, as large as life, and a certain fortune to the owner, as an article for exhibition ; and I won't deny that I began in my own mind a rough guess at the sum total of all the inhabitants of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, at a shilling a head. Jack, too, seemed in a brown study, maybe settling what share, in right and justice, he ought to have of the profits, or perhaps wondering, and puzzled to make head or tail of the question, whether the creature was properly a beast or a fish. As for myself, I felt a little flustered, as you may suppose, not only by the strangeness of the phenomenon, but at the prospect of such a prodigious fortune. In point of fact, I was all in a tremor, like a steam-vessel with highpressure engines, and accordingly sent Jack down below for my brandy-bottle out of the locker, just to steady my nerves. ‘Here's to us both,’ says I, nodding and winking at Jack, ‘and to the Cock Mermaid into the bargain; for unless I’m mistaken, it’ll prove a gold-fish in the end.’ I was rather premature: for the noise of pulling out the cork made the creature look round, which was the first time we had caught a fair look at its face. When lo and behold ! Jack no sooner clapped his eyes on the features, than he sings out again : “‘I'm blest,’ says he – for I did n't allow swearing—“I’m blest if it is n’t Bob Bunce l’ “Well, the Merman gave a nod, as much as to say, ‘You’re right, I’m him;’ and then scrambling up into a sitting posture, with his back agin the companion, made a sign to me for the bottle. So I handed him the flask, which he took a sup of through the net; but the liquor went against his fishified, nature, and pulling a very wry face, he spirted it all out again, and gave me back the bottle. To my mind that settled the matter about his being a rational creature. It was moral impossible, though he might have an outside resemblance, like the apes and monkeys, to the human species. But I was premature again; for, after rolling about a bit, he took me all aback with an odd sort of a voice coming out of his mouth, which was as round as the hole of a flute. “‘Here, says he, ‘lend us a hand to get out of the net.’ “‘It’s Bob Bunce, sure enough, cries Jack; ‘that’s his voice, I’ll take my davit, howsomever he's got transmogrified.” “And with that he stooped down and helped the creature, whatever it was, out of the net, and then popped him up on his two tails against the mast. “And now, says he, “if you’re a Cock Mermaid, as master thinks, you may hold your tongue; but if so be you’re Bob Bunce, as I suspects,” (and if Jack always used the solemn tone he did at that minute he'd make a first-rate popular preacher), ‘why then don't renounce your godfathers and godmothers in your baptism, and your Christian religion, but say so at once like a man.’ “‘I ham Bob Bunce, then, said the creature, with a very strong emphasis, “ or rayther I were, and along with the last word two great tears as big as swanshot sprang out of his pale blue eyes, and rolled down his flabby cheeks. ‘Yes, I were Bob Bunce, and known by sight to every man, woman, and child in Deptford.”
“‘That's true any how, said Jack; “cause why? You were so often a reeling drunk about the streets.” “‘There is no denying it,” said Bob, ‘and plenty of contrary evidence if I did. But it warn’t the strong liquors that ruined me, but quite the reverse; for you see, sir,’ addressing me, ‘one day after a drunken fit a she-teatotaller got hold of me while I was sick and sorry, and prevailed on me to join a temperance club, and take the long pledge, which I did.' “‘And now,” says she, ‘you’re nabb'd, and after that every drop of liquor you take will flare up agin you hereafter like blazes, and make a snap-dragon on you in the tother world.’ “‘Well, being low and narvous, that scarified me at once into water-drinking, and I was fool enough to think, that the more water I drunk the more sober I should be ; whereby at last I reached the pint of taking above two or three gallons a-day. For all that I got no stronger or better, as the speeches and tracks had promised, but rather weaker and weaker; and instead of a fair complexion, began turning bluish and greenish, besides my body being covered, as they say, with gooseskin, and my legs of a scaly character. As for walking, I staggered worse than ever, through gettin' knockneed and splay-footed, which was the beginnin' of their transmogrification. The long and the short is, sir, though I did n't know it, that along o' so much water, I’d been drinkin’ myself amphibbus.” “‘Well, that sounds like philosophy, says Jack: ‘but then, Bob, how come ye into the river ?’ “‘Ah!’ says Bob, shaking his head, ‘that's the sinful part o' the story. But between mortification, and the fear of being showed up for a mermaid, I resolved to put an end to myself, and so crawled down arter dark to Cole's wharf and flung myself into the river. But instead of drownding as I expected, the water that came into my mouth seemed to go out agin at my ears, and I found I could swim about and rise to the top or dive to the bottom as natoral as a fish. That gave me time to repent and reflect, and the consequence is, I’ve lived a wet life for above a week, and am almost reconciled to the same, only I don’t take quite kindly yet to the raw dabs and flounders, and so was making my way down to the oysterbeds in the Medway, when your net come and ketch'd me
“But you would n't spend your days in the ocean, would you, Bob P’ asked Jack, in a sort of coaxing tone that was meant to be very agreeable. “As to hoysters, you may have 'em on dry land, real natives, and ready opened for you, and what's more, pepper'd and vinegar'd, which you can't in the Medway. And in respect to walking, why, me and master would engage to purvide you with a carriage.’ “‘A wan, you mean,’ said the other, with a piercing look at Jack, and then another at me, that made me wince. “A wan — and Bartlemy Fair — but I’ll die first l’ “And rising upright on his double tail, before we could lay hands on him, he threw a somerset over the bulwark, and disappeared.” “And was that the last of him P” said the Vice. “It was, gentlemen,” replied the President. “For Bunce, or Bounce, or Tea-totaller, or Sea-totaller, we never set eyes on him again.” “Well, that’s a warning anyhow,” said the Vice, again helping himself from the bottle. “I’ve heard political people talk of swamping the constitution, but never knew before that it was done with pump-water.” “Nor I neither,” said the member with the cigar. “Why you see,” said the President, “Temperance is a very praiseworthy object to a proper extent; but a thing may be carried too far, as Sinbad said to the Old Man of the Sea. No doubt water-drinking is very wholesome while it's indulged in with moderation, but when you come to take it to excess, why you may equally make a beast of yourself, like poor Bob Bunce, and be unable to keep your legs.”
It is seldom that medical men are of accord in their theories: the differences of doctors have, indeed, passed into a proverb ; but if there be any one point on which their opinions entirely harmonize, it is on the propriety of bathing with an empty stomach. The famous Doctor Krankengraber, in his most famous book, called “Immersion deeply Considered,” forbids, under all kinds of corporeal pains and penalties, the use of the cold bath, after the midday meal. “Take it,” he says emphatically, “as you value your life, health, and consequent peace, comfort, and happiness, by all means before, before, before dinner.” It is a high authority to set up against; and yet if the pen were my professional implement instead of the sword, – could I write treatises as eloquently as the learned Esculapian, – I would cry to the ends of the earth, Bathe, as you love yourself, or love any one else, – as you love the precious meal itself, - bathe after, after, after dinner | Let the candid reader decide between us.