MR. MELMOTTE'S PROMISE
Too Long; Didn't ReadOn the following Saturday there appeared in Mr. Alf's paper, the "Evening Pulpit," a very remarkable article on the South Central Pacific and Mexican Railway. It was an article that attracted a great deal of attention and was therefore remarkable, but it was in nothing more remarkable than in this,—that it left on the mind of its reader no impression of any decided opinion about the railway. The Editor would at any future time be able to refer to his article with equal pride whether the railway should become a great cosmopolitan fact, or whether it should collapse amidst the foul struggles of a horde of swindlers. In utrumque paratus, the article was mysterious, suggestive, amusing, well-informed,—that in the "Evening Pulpit" was a matter of course,—and, above all things, ironical. Next to its omniscience its irony was the strongest weapon belonging to the "Evening Pulpit." There was a little praise given, no doubt in irony, to the duchesses who served Mr. Melmotte. There was a little praise, given of course in irony, to Mr. Melmotte's Board of English Directors. There was a good deal of praise, but still alloyed by a dash of irony, bestowed on the idea of civilising Mexico by joining it to California. Praise was bestowed upon England for taking up the matter, but accompanied by some ironical touches at her incapacity to believe thoroughly in any enterprise not originated by herself. Then there was something said of the universality of Mr. Melmotte's commercial genius, but whether said in a spirit prophetic of ultimate failure and disgrace, or of heavenborn success and unequalled commercial splendour, no one could tell.