Hey, diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle. – From an epic by “Flaccus”
Since the world began there have been two Jeremys. The one wrote a Jeremiad about usury, and was called Jeremy Bentham. He has been much admired by Mr. John Neal, and was a great man in a small way. The o...
<p><em>Hey, diddle diddle,</em></p>
<p><em>The cat and the fiddle.</em> – From an epic by “Flaccus”</p>
<p>Since the world began there have been two Jeremys. The one wrote a Jeremiad about usury, and was called Jeremy Bentham. He has been much admired by Mr. John Neal, and was a great man in a small way. The other gave name to the most important of the Exact Sciences, and was a great man in a great way – I may say, indeed, in the very greatest of ways.</p>
<p>Diddling – or the abstract idea conveyed by the verb to diddle – is sufficiently well understood. Yet the fact, the deed, the thing diddling, is somewhat difficult to define. We may get, however, at a tolerably distinct conception of the matter in hand, by defining – not the thing, diddling, in itself – but man, as an animal that diddles. Had Plato but hit upon this, he would have been spared the affront of the picked chicken.</p>
<p>Very pertinently it was demanded of Plato, why a picked chicken, which was clearly “a biped without feathers,” was not, according to his own definition, a man? But I am not to be bothered by any similar query. Man is an animal that diddles, and there is no animal that diddles but man. It will take an entire hen-coop of picked chickens to get over that.</p>
<p>What constitutes the essence, the nare, the principle of diddling is, in fact, peculiar to the class of creatures that wear coats and pantaloons. A crow thieves; a fox cheats; a weasel outwits; a man diddles. To diddle is his destiny. “Man was made to mourn,” says the poet. But not so: – he was made to diddle. This is his aim – his object – his end. And for this reason when a man’s diddled we say he’s “done.”</p>
<p>Diddling, rightly considered, is a compound, of which the ingredients are minuteness, interest, perseverance, ingenuity, audacity, nonchalance, originality, impertinence, and grin.</p>
<p>Minuteness: – Your diddler is minute. His operations are upon a small scale. His business is retail, for cash, or approved paper at sight. Should he ever be tempted into magnificent speculation, he then, at once, loses his distinctive features, and becomes what we term “financier.” This latter word conveys the diddling idea in every respect except that of magnitude. A diddler may thus be regarded as a banker in petto – a “financial operation,” as a didd...