Flanking the great Cathedral on the north, was the row of small open stalls devoted to the sale of books, or "objects of devotion," all so arranged that the open portion might be cleared, and the stock- in-trade locked up if not carried away.
At night something tugged the blankets off their beds, a favourite old spiritual trick, which was played, if I remember well, on a Roman Emperor, according to Suetonius. Poor Campbell had to remove his stock- in-trade, and send his children to board out, "to try whom the trouble did most follow." Then the house was twice set on fire, and it might have been enough to give Thomas a beating.
An almost Mephistophilean coolness, an unwearying search after the comic sides of serious subjects, after the mean possibilities of the sublime, these, with a native sense of incongruities and a glorious vein of exaggeration, make up his stock- in-trade. The colossal exaggeration is, of course, natural to a land of ocean-like rivers and almighty tall pumpkins.