Part 5 out of 13
'Indeed! what do you call it?'
'Ancient songs of Denmark, heroic and romantic, translated by
myself; with notes philological, critical, and historical.'
'Then, sir, I assure you that your time and labour have been
entirely flung away; nobody would read your ballads, if you were to
give them to the world to-morrow.'
'I am sure, sir, that you would say otherwise if you would permit
me to read one to you'; and, without waiting for the answer of the
big man, nor indeed so much as looking at him, to see whether he
was inclined or not to hear me, I undid my manuscript, and, with a
voice trembling with eagerness, I read to the following effect: -
Buckshank bold and Elfinstone,
And more than I can mention here,
They caused to be built so stout a ship,
And unto Iceland they would steer.
They launched the ship upon the main,
Which bellowed like a wrathful bear;
Down to the bottom the vessel sank,
A laidly Trold has dragged it there.
Down to the bottom sank young Roland,
And round about he groped awhile;
Until he found the path which led
Unto the bower of Ellenlyle.
'Stop!' said the publisher; 'very pretty indeed, and very original;
beats Scott hollow, and Percy too: but, sir, the day for these
things is gone by; nobody at present cares for Percy, nor for Scott
either, save as a novelist; sorry to discourage merit, sir, but
what can I do! What else have you got?'
'The songs of Ab Gwilym, the Welsh bard, also translated by myself,
with notes critical, philological, and historical.'
'Pass on--what else?'
'Nothing else,' said I, folding up my manuscript with a sigh,
'unless it be a romance in the German style; on which, I confess, I
set very little value.'
'Yes, sir, very wild.'
'Like the Miller of the Black Valley?'
'Yes, sir, very much like the Miller of the Black Valley.'
'Well, that's better,' said the publisher; 'and yet, I don't know,
I question whether any one at present cares for the miller himself.
No, sir, the time for those things is also gone by; German, at
present, is a drug; and, between ourselves, nobody has contributed
to make it so more than my good friend and correspondent;--but,
sir, I see you are a young gentleman of infinite merit, and I
always wish to encourage merit. Don't you think you could write a
series of evangelical tales?'
'Evangelical tales, sir?'
'Yes, sir, evangelical novels.'
'Something in the style of Herder?'
'Herder is a drug, sir; nobody cares for Herder--thanks to my good
friend. Sir, I have in yon drawer a hundred pages about Herder,
which I dare not insert in my periodical; it would sink it, sir.
No, sir, something in the style of the Dairyman's Daughter.'
'I never heard of the work till the present moment.'
'Then, sir, procure it by all means. Sir, I could afford as much
as ten pounds for a well-written tale in the style of the
Dairyman's Daughter; that is the kind of literature, sir, that
sells at the present day! It is not the Miller of the Black
Valley--no, sir, nor Herder either, that will suit the present
taste; the evangelical body is becoming very strong, sir; the
'But, sir, surely you would not pander to a scoundrelly taste?'
'Then, sir, I must give up business altogether. Sir, I have a
great respect for the goddess Reason--an infinite respect, sir;
indeed, in my time, I have made a great many sacrifices for her;
but, sir, I cannot altogether ruin myself for the goddess Reason.
Sir, I am a friend to Liberty, as is well known; but I must also be
a friend to my own family. It is with the view of providing for a
son of mine that I am about to start the Review of which I was
speaking. He has taken into his head to marry, sir, and I must do
something for him, for he can do but little for himself. Well,
sir, I am a friend to Liberty, as I said before, and likewise a
friend to Reason; but I tell you frankly that the Review which I
intend to get up under the rose, and present him with when it is
established, will be conducted on Oxford principles.'
'Orthodox principles, I suppose you mean, sir?'
'I do, sir; I am no linguist, but I believe the words are
Much more conversation passed between us, and it was agreed that I
should become a contributor to the Oxford Review. I stipulated,
however, that, as I knew little of politics, and cared less, no
other articles should be required from me than such as were
connected with belles-lettres and philology; to this the big man
readily assented. 'Nothing will be required from you,' said he,
'but what you mention; and now and then, perhaps, a paper on
metaphysics. You understand German, and perhaps it would be
desirable that you should review Kant; and in a review of Kant,
sir, you could introduce to advantage your peculiar notions about
ex nihilo.' He then reverted to the subject of the Dairyman's
Daughter, which I promised to take into consideration. As I was
going away, he invited me to dine with him on the ensuing Sunday.
'That's a strange man!' said I to myself, after I had left the
house; 'he is evidently very clever; but I cannot say that I like
him much, with his Oxford Reviews and Dairyman's Daughters. But
what can I do? I am almost without a friend in the world. I wish
I could find some one who would publish my ballads, or my songs of
Ab Gwilym. In spite of what the big man says, I am convinced that,
once published, they would bring me much fame and profit. But how
is this?--what a beautiful sun!--the porter was right in saying
that the day would clear up--I will now go to my dingy lodging,
lock up my manuscripts, and then take a stroll about the big city.'
The walk--London's Cheape--Street of the Lombards--Strange bridge--
Main arch--The roaring gulf--The boat--Cly-faking--A comfort--The
book--The blessed woman--No trap.
So I set out on my walk to see the wonders of the big city, and, as
chance would have it, I directed my course to the east. The day,
as I have already said, had become very fine, so that I saw the
great city to advantage, and the wonders thereof: and much I
admired all I saw; and, amongst other things, the huge cathedral,
standing so proudly on the most commanding ground in the big city;
and I looked up to the mighty dome, surmounted by a golden cross,
and I said within myself, 'That dome must needs be the finest in
the world'; and I gazed upon it till my eyes reeled, and my brain
became dizzy, and I thought that the dome would fall and crush me;
and I shrank within myself, and struck yet deeper into the heart of
the big city.
'O Cheapside! Cheapside!' said I, as I advanced up that mighty
thoroughfare, 'truly thou art a wonderful place for hurry, noise,
and riches! Men talk of the bazaars of the East--I have never seen
them--but I daresay that, compared with thee, they are poor places,
silent places, abounding with empty boxes, O thou pride of London's
east!--mighty mart of old renown!--for thou art not a place of
yesterday:- long before the Roses red and white battled in fair
England, thou didst exist--a place of throng and bustle--place of
gold and silver, perfumes and fine linen. Centuries ago thou
couldst extort the praises even of the fiercest foes of England.
Fierce bards of Wales, sworn foes of England, sang thy praises
centuries ago; and even the fiercest of them all, Red Julius
himself, wild Glendower's bard, had a word of praise for London's
'Cheape,' for so the bards of Wales styled thee in their flowing
odes. Then, if those who were not English, and hated England, and
all connected therewith, had yet much to say in thy praise, when
thou wast far inferior to what thou art now, why should true-born
Englishmen, or those who call themselves so, turn up their noses at
thee, and scoff thee at the present day, as I believe they do?
But, let others do as they will, I, at least, who am not only an
Englishman, but an East Englishman, will not turn up my nose at
thee, but will praise and extol thee, calling thee mart of the
world--a place of wonder and astonishment!--and, were it right and
fitting to wish that anything should endure for ever, I would say
prosperity to Cheapside, throughout all ages--may it be the world's
resort for merchandise, world without end.
And when I had passed through the Cheape I entered another street,
which led up a kind of ascent, and which proved to be the street of
the Lombards, called so from the name of its first founders; and I
walked rapidly up the street of the Lombards, neither looking to
the right nor left, for it had no interest for me, though I had a
kind of consciousness that mighty things were being transacted
behind its walls: but it wanted the throng, bustle, and outward
magnificence of the Cheape, and it had never been spoken of by
'ruddy bards'! And, when I had got to the end of the street of the
Lombards, I stood still for some time, deliberating within myself
whether I should turn to the right or the left, or go straight
forward, and at last I turned to the right, down a street of rapid
descent, and presently found myself upon a bridge which traversed
the river which runs by the big city.
A strange kind of bridge it was; huge and massive, and seemingly of
great antiquity. It had an arched back, like that of a hog, a high
balustrade, and at either side, at intervals, were stone bowers
bulking over the river, but open on the other side, and furnished
with a semicircular bench. Though the bridge was wide--very wide--
it was all too narrow for the concourse upon it. Thousands of
human beings were pouring over the bridge. But what chiefly struck
my attention was a double row of carts and wagons, the generality
drawn by horses as large as elephants, each row striving hard in a
different direction, and not unfrequently brought to a stand-still.
Oh the cracking of whips, the shouts and oaths of the carters, and
the grating of wheels upon the enormous stones that formed the
pavement! In fact, there was a wild burly-burly upon the bridge,
which nearly deafened me. But, if upon the bridge there was a
confusion, below it there was a confusion ten times confounded.
The tide, which was fast ebbing, obstructed by the immense piers of
the old bridge, poured beneath the arches with a fall of several
feet, forming in the river below as many whirlpools as there were
arches. Truly tremendous was the roar of the descending waters,
and the bellow of the tremendous gulfs, which swallowed them for a
time, and then cast them forth, foaming and frothing from their
horrid wombs. Slowly advancing along the bridge, I came to the
highest point, and there I stood still, close beside one of the
stone bowers, in which, beside a fruit-stall, sat an old woman,
with a pan of charcoal at her feet, and a book in her hand, in
which she appeared to be reading intently. There I stood, just
above the principal arch, looking through the balustrade at the
scene that presented itself--and such a scene! Towards the left
bank of the river, a forest of masts, thick and close, as far as
the eye could reach; spacious wharfs, surmounted with gigantic
edifices; and, far away, Caesar's Castle, with its White Tower. To
the right, another forest of masts, and a maze of buildings, from
which, here and there, shot up to the sky chimneys taller than
Cleopatra's Needle, vomiting forth huge wreaths of that black smoke
which forms the canopy--occasionally a gorgeous one--of the more
than Babel city. Stretching before me, the troubled breast of the
mighty river, and, immediately below, the main whirlpool of the
Thames--the Maelstrom of the bulwarks of the middle arch--a grisly
pool, which, with its superabundance of horror, fascinated me. Who
knows but I should have leapt into its depths?--I have heard of
such things--but for a rather startling occurrence which broke the
spell. As I stood upon the bridge, gazing into the jaws of the
pool, a small boat shot suddenly through the arch beneath my feet.
There were three persons in it; an oarsman in the middle, whilst a
man and woman sat at the stern. I shall never forget the thrill of
horror which went through me at this sudden apparition. What!--a
boat--a small boat--passing beneath that arch into yonder roaring
gulf! Yes, yes, down through that awful water-way, with more than
the swiftness of an arrow, shot the boat, or skiff, right into the
jaws of the pool. A monstrous breaker curls over the prow--there
is no hope; the boat is swamped, and all drowned in that strangling
vortex. No! the boat, which appeared to have the buoyancy of a
feather, skipped over the threatening horror, and, the next moment,
was out of danger, the boatman--a true boatman of Cockaigne that--
elevating one of his sculls in sign of triumph, the man hallooing,
and the woman, a true Englishwoman that--of a certain class--waving
her shawl. Whether any one observed them save myself, or whether
the feat was a common one, I know not; but nobody appeared to take
any notice of them. As for myself, I was so excited that I strove
to clamber up the balustrade of the bridge, in order to obtain a
better view of the daring adventurers. Before I could accomplish
my design, however, I felt myself seized by the body, and, turning
my head, perceived the old fruit-woman, who was clinging to me.
'Nay, dear! don't--don't!' said she. 'Don't fling yourself over--
perhaps you may have better luck next time!'
'I was not going to fling myself over,' said I, dropping from the
balustrade; 'how came you to think of such a thing?'
'Why, seeing you clamber up so fiercely, I thought you might have
had ill luck, and that you wished to make away with yourself.'
'Ill luck,' said I, going into the stone bower, and sitting down.
'What do you mean? ill luck in what?'
'Why, no great harm, dear! cly-faking perhaps.'
'Are you coming over me with dialects,' said I, 'speaking unto me
in fashions I wot nothing of?'
'Nay, dear! don't look so strange with those eyes of your'n, nor
talk so strangely; I don't understand you.'
'Nor I you; what do you mean by cly-faking?'
'Lor, dear! no harm; only taking a handkerchief now and then.'
'Do you take me for a thief?
'Nay, dear! don't make use of bad language; we never calls them
thieves here, but prigs and fakers: to tell you the truth, dear,
seeing you spring at that railing put me in mind of my own dear
son, who is now at Bot'ny: when he had bad luck, he always used to
talk of flinging himself over the bridge; and, sure enough, when
the traps were after him, he did fling himself into the river, but
that was off the bank; nevertheless, the traps pulled him out, and
he is now suffering his sentence; so you see you may speak out, if
you have done anything in the harmless line, for I am my son's own
mother, I assure you.'
'So you think there's no harm in stealing?'
'No harm in the world, dear! Do you think my own child would have
been transported for it, if there had been any harm in it? and,
what's more, would the blessed woman in the book here have written
her life as she has done, and given it to the world, if there had
been any harm in faking? She, too, was what they call a thief and
a cut-purse; ay, and was transported for it, like my dear son; and
do you think she would have told the world so, if there had been
any harm in the thing? Oh, it is a comfort to me that the blessed
woman was transported, and came back--for come back she did, and
rich too--for it is an assurance to me that my dear son, who was
transported too, will come back like her.'
'What was her name?'
'Her name, blessed Mary Flanders.'
'Will you let me look at the book?'
'Yes, dear, that I will, if you promise me not to run away with
I took the book from her hand; a short thick volume, at least a
century old, bound with greasy black leather. I turned the yellow
and dog's-eared pages, reading here and there a sentence. Yes, and
no mistake! HIS pen, his style, his spirit might be observed in
every line of the uncouth-looking old volume--the air, the style,
the spirit of the writer of the book which first taught me to read.
I covered my face with my hand, and thought of my childhood. . . .
'This is a singular book,' said I at last; 'but it does not appear
to have been written to prove that thieving is no harm, but rather
to show the terrible consequences of crime: it contains a deep
'A deep what, dear?'
'A--but no matter, I will give you a crown for this volume.'
'No, dear, I will not sell the volume for a crown.'
'I am poor,' said I; 'but I will give you two silver crowns for
'No, dear, I will not sell my volume for two silver crowns; no, nor
for the golden one in the king's tower down there; without my book
I should mope and pine, and perhaps fling myself into the river;
but I am glad you like it, which shows that I was right about you,
after all; you are one of our party, and you have a flash about
that eye of yours which puts me just in mind of my dear son. No,
dear, I won't sell you my book; but, if you like, you may have a
peep into it whenever you come this way. I shall be glad to see
you; you are one of the right sort, for, if you had been a common
one, you would have run away with the thing; but you scorn such
behaviour, and, as you are so flash of your money, though you say
you are poor, you may give me a tanner to buy a little baccy with;
I love baccy, dear, more by token that it comes from the
plantations to which the blessed woman was sent.'
'What's a tanner?' said I.
'Lor! don't you know, dear? Why, a tanner is sixpence; and, as you
were talking just now about crowns, it will be as well to tell you
that those of our trade never calls them crowns, but bulls; but I
am talking nonsense, just as if you did not know all that already,
as well as myself; you are only shamming--I'm no trap, dear, nor
more was the blessed woman in the book. Thank you, dear--thank you
for the tanner; if I don't spend it, I'll keep it in remembrance of
your sweet face. What, you are going?--well, first let me whisper
a word to you. If you have any clies to sell at any time, I'll buy
them of you; all safe with me; I never peach, and scores a trap; so
now, dear, God bless you! and give you good luck. Thank you for
your pleasant company, and thank you for the tanner.'
The tanner--The hotel--Drinking claret--London journal--New field--
Commonplaceness--The three individuals--Botheration--Frank and
'Tanner!' said I musingly, as I left the bridge; 'Tanner! what can
the man who cures raw skins by means of a preparation of oak bark
and other materials have to do with the name which these fakers, as
they call themselves, bestow on the smallest silver coin in these
dominions? Tanner! I can't trace the connection between the man
of bark and the silver coin, unless journeymen tanners are in the
habit of working for sixpence a day. But I have it,' I continued,
flourishing my hat over my head, 'tanner, in this instance, is not
an English word.' Is it not surprising that the language of Mr.
Petulengro and of Tawno Chikno is continually coming to my
assistance whenever I appear to be at a nonplus with respect to the
derivation of crabbed words? I have made out crabbed words in
AEschylus by means of the speech of Chikno and Petulengro, and even
in my Biblical researches I have derived no slight assistance from
it. It appears to be a kind of picklock, an open sesame, Tanner--
Tawno! the one is but a modification of the other; they were
originally identical, and have still much the same signification.
Tanner, in the language of the apple-woman, meaneth the smallest of
English silver coins; and Tawno, in the language of the
Petulengres, though bestowed upon the biggest of the Romans,
according to strict interpretation signifieth a little child.
So I left the bridge, retracing my steps for a considerable way, as
I thought I had seen enough in the direction in which I had
hitherto been wandering; I should say that I scarcely walked less
than thirty miles about the big city on the day of my first
arrival. Night came on, but still I was walking about, my eyes
wide open, and admiring everything that presented itself to them.
Everything was new to me, for everything is different in London
from what it is elsewhere--the people, their language, the horses,
the tout ensemble--even the stones of London are different from
others--at least it appeared to me that I had never walked with the
same case and facility on the flagstones of a country town as on
those of London; so I continued roving about till night came on,
and then the splendour of some of the shops particularly struck me.
'A regular Arabian Nights entertainment!' said I, as I looked into
one on Cornhill, gorgeous with precious merchandise, and lighted up
with lustres, the rays of which were reflected from a hundred
But, notwithstanding the excellence of the London pavement, I began
about nine o'clock to feel myself thoroughly tired; painfully and
slowly did I drag my feet along. I also felt very much in want of
some refreshment, and I remembered that since breakfast I had taken
nothing. I was now in the Strand, and, glancing about, I perceived
that I was close by an hotel, which bore over the door the somewhat
remarkable name of Holy Lands. Without a moment's hesitation I
entered a well-lighted passage, and, turning to the left, I found
myself in a well-lighted coffee-room, with a well-dressed and
frizzled waiter before me, 'Bring me some claret,' said I, for I
was rather faint than hungry, and I felt ashamed to give a humbler
order to so well-dressed an individual. The waiter looked at me
for a moment; then, making a low bow, he bustled off, and I sat
myself down in the box nearest to the window. Presently the waiter
returned, bearing beneath his left arm a long bottle, and between
the fingers of his right hand two large purple glasses; placing the
latter on the table, he produced a corkscrew, drew the cork in a
twinkling, set the bottle down before me with a bang, and then,
standing still, appeared to watch my movements. You think I don't
know how to drink a glass of claret, thought I to myself. I'll
soon show you how we drink claret where I come from; and, filling
one of the glasses to the brim, I flickered it for a moment between
my eyes and the lustre, and then held it to my nose; having given
that organ full time to test the bouquet of the wine, I applied the
glass to my lips, taking a large mouthful of the wine, which I
swallowed slowly and by degrees, that the palate might likewise
have an opportunity of performing its functions. A second mouthful
I disposed of more summarily; then, placing the empty glass upon
the table, I fixed my eyes upon the bottle, and said--nothing;
whereupon the waiter, who had been observing the whole process with
considerable attention, made me a bow yet more low than before,
and, turning on his heel, retired with a smart chuck of his head,
as much as to say, It is all right: the young man is used to
And when the waiter had retired I took a second glass of the wine,
which I found excellent; and, observing a newspaper lying near me,
I took it up and began perusing it. It has been observed somewhere
that people who are in the habit of reading newspapers every day
are not unfrequently struck with the excellence of style and
general talent which they display. Now, if that be the case, how
must I have been surprised, who was reading a newspaper for the
first time, and that one of the best of the London journals! Yes,
strange as it may seem, it was nevertheless true that, up to the
moment of which I am speaking, I had never read a newspaper of any
description. I of course had frequently seen journals, and even
handled them; but, as for reading them, what were they to me? I
cared not for news. But here I was now with my claret before me,
perusing, perhaps, the best of all the London journals; it was not
the -, and I was astonished: an entirely new field of literature
appeared to be opened to my view. It was a discovery, but I
confess rather an unpleasant one; for I said to myself, If literary
talent is so very common in London, that the journals, things
which, as their very name denotes, are ephemeral, are written in a
style like the article I have been perusing, how can I hope to
distinguish myself in this big town, when, for the life of me, I
don't think I could write anything half so clever as what I have
been reading? And then I laid down the paper, and fell into deep
musing; rousing myself from which, I took a glass of wine, and,
pouring out another, began musing again. What I have been reading,
thought I, is certainly very clever and very talented; but talent
and cleverness I think I have heard some one say are very
commonplace things, only fitted for everyday occasions. I question
whether the man who wrote the book I saw this day on the bridge was
a clever man; but, after all, was he not something much better? I
don't think he could have written this article, but then he wrote
the book which I saw on the bridge. Then, if he could not have
written the article on which I now hold my forefinger--and I do not
believe he could--why should I feel discouraged at the
consciousness that I, too, could not write it? I certainly could
no more have written the article than he could; but then, like him,
though I would not compare myself to the man who wrote the book I
saw upon the bridge, I think I could--and here I emptied the glass
of claret--write something better.
Thereupon I resumed the newspaper; and, as I was before struck with
the fluency of style and the general talent which it displayed, I
was now equally so with its commonplaceness and want of originality
on every subject; and it was evident to me that, whatever advantage
these newspaper-writers might have over me in some points, they had
never studied the Welsh bards, translated Kaempe Viser, or been
under the pupilage of Mr. Petulengro and Tawno Chikno.
And as I sat conning the newspaper three individuals entered the
room, and seated themselves in the box at the farther end of which
I was. They were all three very well dressed; two of them elderly
gentlemen, the third a young man about my own age, or perhaps a
year or two older: they called for coffee; and, after two or three
observations, the two eldest commenced a conversation in French,
which, however, though they spoke it fluently enough, I perceived
at once was not their native language; the young man, however, took
no part in their conversation, and when they addressed a portion to
him, which indeed was but rarely, merely replied by a monosyllable.
I have never been a listener, and I paid but little heed to their
discourse, nor indeed to themselves; as I occasionally looked up,
however, I could perceive that the features of the young man, who
chanced to be seated exactly opposite to me, wore an air of
constraint and vexation. This circumstance caused me to observe
him more particularly than I otherwise should have done: his
features were handsome and prepossessing; he had dark brown hair
and a high-arched forehead. After the lapse of half an hour, the
two elder individuals, having finished their coffee, called for the
waiter, and then rose as if to depart, the young man, however,
still remaining seated in the box. The others, having reached the
door, turned round, and, finding that the youth did not follow
them, one of them called to him with a tone of some authority;
whereupon the young man rose, and, pronouncing half audibly the
word 'botheration,' rose and followed them. I now observed that he
was remarkably tall. All three left the house. In about ten
minutes, finding nothing more worth reading in the newspaper, I
laid it down, and though the claret was not yet exhausted, I was
thinking of betaking myself to my lodgings, and was about to call
the waiter, when I heard a step in the passage, and in another
moment the tall young man entered the room, advanced to the same
box, and, sitting down nearly opposite to me, again pronounced to
himself, but more audibly than before, the same word.
'A troublesome world this, sir,' said I, looking at him.
'Yes,' said the young man, looking fixedly at me; 'but I am afraid
we bring most of our troubles on our own heads--at least I can say
so of myself,' he added, laughing. Then, after a pause, 'I beg
pardon,' he said, 'but am I not addressing one of my own country?'
'Of what country are you?' said I.
'I am not of your country, sir; but I have an infinite veneration
for your country, as Strap said to the French soldier. Will you
take a glass of wine?'
'Ah, de tout mon coeur, as the parasite said to Gil Blas,' cried
the young man, laughing. 'Here's to our better acquaintance!'
And better acquainted we soon became; and I found that, in making
the acquaintance of the young man, I had indeed made a valuable
acquisition; he was accomplished, highly connected, and bore the
name of Francis Ardry. Frank and ardent he was, and in a very
little time had told me much that related to himself, and in return
I communicated a general outline of my own history; he listened
with profound attention, but laughed heartily when I told him some
particulars of my visit in the morning to the publisher, whom he
had frequently heard of.
We left the house together.
'We shall soon see each other again,' said he, as we separated at
the door of my lodging.
Dine with the publisher--Religions--No animal food--Unprofitable
discussions--Principles of criticism--The book market--Newgate
lives--Goethe a drug--German acquirements--Moral dignity.
On the Sunday I was punctual to my appointment to dine with the
publisher. As I hurried along the square in which his house stood,
my thoughts were fixed so intently on the great man, that I passed
by him without seeing him. He had observed me, however, and joined
me just as I was about to knock at the door. 'Let us take a turn
in the square,' said he, 'we shall not dine for half an hour.'
'Well,' said he, as we were walking in the square, 'what have you
been doing since I last saw you?'
'I have been looking about London,' said I, 'and I have bought the
Dairyman's Daughter; here it is.'
'Pray put it up,' said the publisher; 'I don't want to look at such
trash. Well, do you think you could write anything like it?'
'I do not,' said I.
'How is that?' said the publisher, looking at me.
'Because,' said I, 'the man who wrote it seems to be perfectly well
acquainted with his subject; and, moreover, to write from the
'By the subject you mean--'
'And ain't you acquainted with religion?'
'I am sorry for that,' said the publisher seriously, 'for he who
sets up for an author ought to be acquainted not only with
religion, but religions, and indeed with all subjects, like my good
friend in the country. It is well that I have changed my mind
about the Dairyman's Daughter, or I really don't know whom I could
apply to on the subject at the present moment, unless to himself;
and after all I question whether his style is exactly suited for an
'Then you do not wish for an imitation of the Dairyman's Daughter?'
'I do not, sir; I have changed my mind, as I told you before; I
wish to employ you in another line, but will communicate to you my
intentions after dinner.'
At dinner, beside the publisher and myself, were present his wife
and son with his newly-married bride; the wife appeared a quiet
respectable woman, and the young people looked very happy and good-
natured; not so the publisher, who occasionally eyed both with
contempt and dislike. Connected with this dinner there was one
thing remarkable; the publisher took no animal food, but contented
himself with feeding voraciously on rice and vegetables prepared in
'You eat no animal food, sir?' said I.
'I do not, sir,' said he; 'I have forsworn it upwards of twenty
years. In one respect, sir, I am a Brahmin. I abhor taking away
life--the brutes have as much right to live as ourselves.'
'But,' said I, 'if the brutes were not killed, there would be such
a superabundance of them, that the land would be overrun with
'I do not think so, sir; few are killed in India, and yet there is
plenty of room.'
'But,' said I, 'Nature intended that they should be destroyed, and
the brutes themselves prey upon one another, and it is well for
themselves and the world that they do so. What would be the state
of things if every insect, bird, and worm were left to perish of
'We will change the subject,' said the publisher; 'I have never
been a friend of unprofitable discussions.'
I looked at the publisher with some surprise, I had not been
accustomed to be spoken to so magisterially; his countenance was
dressed in a portentous frown, and his eye looked more sinister
than ever; at that moment he put me in mind of some of those
despots of whom I had read in the history of Morocco, whose word
was law. He merely wants power, thought I to myself, to be a
regular Muley Mehemet; and then I sighed, for I remembered how very
much I was in the power of that man.
The dinner over, the publisher nodded to his wife, who departed,
followed by her daughter-in-law. The son looked as if he would
willingly have attended them; he, however, remained seated; and, a
small decanter of wine being placed on the table, the publisher
filled two glasses, one of which he handed to myself, and the other
to his son; saying, 'Suppose you two drink to the success of the
Review. I would join you,' said he, addressing himself to me, 'but
I drink no wine; if I am a Brahmin with respect to meat, I am a
Mahometan with respect to wine.'
So the son and I drank success to the Review, and then the young
man asked me various questions; for example--How I liked London?--
Whether I did not think it a very fine place?--Whether I was at the
play the night before?--and whether I was in the park that
afternoon? He seemed preparing to ask me some more questions; but,
receiving a furious look from his father, he became silent, filled
himself a glass of wine, drank it off, looked at the table for
about a minute, then got up, pushed back his chair, made me a bow,
and left the room.
'Is that young gentleman, sir,' said I, 'well versed in the
principles of criticism?'
'He is not, sir,' said the publisher; 'and, if I place him at the
head of the Review ostensibly, I do it merely in the hope of
procuring him a maintenance; of the principle of a thing he knows
nothing, except that the principle of bread is wheat, and that the
principle of that wine is grape. Will you take another glass?'
I looked at the decanter; but, not feeling altogether so sure as
the publisher's son with respect to the principle of what it
contained, I declined taking any more.
'No, sir,' said the publisher, adjusting himself in his chair, 'he
knows nothing about criticism, and will have nothing more to do
with the reviewals than carrying about the books to those who have
to review them; the real conductor of the Review will be a widely
different person, to whom I will, when convenient, introduce you.
And now we will talk of the matter which we touched upon before
dinner: I told you then that I had changed my mind with respect to
you; I have been considering the state of the market, sir, the book
market, and I have come to the conclusion that, though you might be
profitably employed upon evangelical novels, you could earn more
money for me, sir, and consequently for yourself, by a compilation
of Newgate lives and trials.'
'Newgate lives and trials!'
'Yes, sir,' said the publisher, 'Newgate lives and trials; and now,
sir, I will briefly state to you the services which I expect you to
perform, and the terms which I am willing to grant. I expect you,
sir, to compile six volumes of Newgate lives and trials, each
volume to contain by no manner of means less than one thousand
pages; the remuneration which you will receive when the work is
completed will be fifty pounds, which is likewise intended to cover
any expenses you may incur in procuring books, papers, and
manuscripts necessary for the compilation. Such will be one of
your employments, sir,--such the terms. In the second place, you
will be expected to make yourself useful in the Review--generally
useful, sir--doing whatever is required of you; for it is not
customary, at least with me, to permit writers, especially young
writers, to choose their subjects. In these two departments, sir,
namely compilation and reviewing, I had yesterday, after due
consideration, determined upon employing you. I had intended to
employ you no farther, sir--at least for the present; but, sir,
this morning I received a letter from my valued friend in the
country, in which he speaks in terms of strong admiration (I don't
overstate) of your German acquirements. Sir, he says that it would
be a thousand pities if your knowledge of the German language
should be lost to the world, or even permitted to sleep, and he
entreats me to think of some plan by which it may be turned to
account. Sir, I am at all times willing, if possible, to oblige my
worthy friend, and likewise to encourage merit and talent; I have,
therefore, determined to employ you in German.'
'Sir,' said I, rubbing my hands, 'you are very kind, and so is our
mutual friend; I shall be happy to make myself useful in German;
and if you think a good translation from Goethe--his Sorrows for
example, or more particularly his Faust--'
'Sir,' said the publisher, 'Goethe is a drug; his Sorrows are a
drug, so is his Faustus, more especially the last, since that fool-
-rendered him into English. No, sir, I do not want you to
translate Goethe or anything belonging to him; nor do I want you to
translate anything from the German; what I want you to do, is to
translate into German. I am willing to encourage merit, sir; and,
as my good friend in his last letter has spoken very highly of your
German acquirements, I have determined that you shall translate my
book of philosophy into German.'
'Your book of philosophy into German, sir?'
'Yes, sir; my book of philosophy into German. I am not a drug,
sir, in Germany as Goethe is here, no more is my book. I intend to
print the translation at Leipzig, sir; and if it turns out a
profitable speculation, as I make no doubt it will, provided the
translation be well executed, I will make you some remuneration.
Sir, your remuneration will be determined by the success of your
'Sir,' said the publisher, interrupting me, 'you have heard my
intentions; I consider that you ought to feel yourself highly
gratified by my intentions towards you; it is not frequently that I
deal with a writer, especially a young writer, as I have done with
you. And now, sir, permit me to inform you that I wish to be
alone. This is Sunday afternoon, sir; I never go to church, but I
am in the habit of spending part of every Sunday afternoon alone--
profitably I hope, sir--in musing on the magnificence of nature and
the moral dignity of man.'
The two volumes--A young author--Intended editor--Quintilian--Loose
'What can't be cured must be endured,' and 'it is hard to kick
against the pricks.'
At the period to which I have brought my history, I bethought me of
the proverbs with which I have headed this chapter, and determined
to act up to their spirit. I determined not to fly in the face of
the publisher, and to bear--what I could not cure--his arrogance
and vanity. At present, at the conclusion of nearly a quarter of a
century, I am glad that I came to that determination, which I did
my best to carry into effect.
Two or three days after our last interview, the publisher made his
appearance in my apartment; he bore two tattered volumes under his
arm, which he placed on the table. 'I have brought you two volumes
of lives, sir,' said he, 'which I yesterday found in my garret; you
will find them of service for your compilation. As I always wish
to behave liberally and encourage talent, especially youthful
talent, I shall make no charge for them, though I should be
justified in so doing, as you are aware that, by our agreement, you
are to provide any books and materials which may be necessary.
Have you been in quest of any?'
'No,' said I, 'not yet.'
'Then, sir, I would advise you to lose no time in doing so; you
must visit all the bookstalls, sir, especially those in the by-
streets and blind alleys. It is in such places that you will find
the description of literature you are in want of. You must be up
and doing, sir; it will not do for an author, especially a young
author, to be idle in this town. To-night you will receive my book
of philosophy, and likewise books for the Review. And, by the bye,
sir, it will be as well for you to review my book of philosophy for
the Review; the other reviews not having noticed it. Sir, before
translating it, I wish you to review my book of philosophy for the
'I shall be happy to do my best, sir.'
'Very good, sir; I should be unreasonable to expect anything beyond
a person's best. And now, sir, if you please, I will conduct you
to the future editor of the Review. As you are to co-operate, sir,
I deem it right to make you acquainted.'
The intended editor was a little old man, who sat in a kind of
wooden pavilion in a small garden behind a house in one of the
purlieus of the city, composing tunes upon a piano. The walls of
the pavilion were covered with fiddles of various sizes and
appearances, and a considerable portion of the floor occupied by a
pile of books all of one size. The publisher introduced him to me
as a gentleman scarcely less eminent in literature than in music,
and me to him as an aspirant critic--a young gentleman scarcely
less eminent in philosophy than in philology. The conversation
consisted entirely of compliments till just before we separated,
when the future editor inquired of me whether I had ever read
Quintilian; and, on my replying in the negative, expressed his
surprise that any gentleman should aspire to become a critic who
had never read Quintilian, with the comfortable information,
however, that he could supply me with a Quintilian at half-price,
that is, a translation made by himself some years previously, of
which he had, pointing to the heap on the floor, still a few copies
remaining unsold. For some reason or other, perhaps a poor one, I
did not purchase the editor's translation of Quintilian.
'Sir,' said the publisher, as we were returning from our visit to
the editor, 'you did right in not purchasing a drug. I am not
prepared, sir, to say that Quintilian is a drug, never having seen
him; but I am prepared to say that man's translation is a drug,
judging from the heap of rubbish on the floor; besides, sir, you
will want any loose money you may have to purchase the description
of literature which is required for your compilation.'
The publisher presently paused before the entrance of a very
forlorn-looking street. 'Sir,' said he, after looking down it with
attention, 'I should not wonder if in that street you find works
connected with the description of literature which is required for
your compilation. It is in streets of this description, sir, and
blind alleys, where such works are to be found. You had better
search that street, sir, whilst I continue my way.'
I searched the street to which the publisher had pointed, and, in
the course of the three succeeding days, many others of a similar
kind. I did not find the description of literature alluded to by
the publisher to be a drug, but, on the contrary, both scarce and
dear. I had expended much more than my loose money long before I
could procure materials even for the first volume of my
Francis Ardry--Certain sharpers--Brave and eloquent--Opposites--
Flinging the bones--Strange places--Dog-fighting--Learning and
letters--Batch of dogs--Redoubled application.
One evening I was visited by the tall young gentleman, Francis
Ardry, whose acquaintance I had formed at the coffee-house. As it
is necessary that the reader should know something more about this
young man, who will frequently appear in the course of these pages,
I will state in a few words who and what he was. He was born of an
ancient Roman Catholic family in Ireland; his parents, whose only
child he was, had long been dead. His father, who had survived his
mother several years, had been a spendthrift, and at his death had
left the family property considerably embarrassed. Happily,
however, the son and the estate fell into the hands of careful
guardians, near relations of the family, by whom the property was
managed to the best advantage, and every means taken to educate the
young man in a manner suitable to his expectations. At the age of
sixteen he was taken from a celebrated school in England at which
he had been placed, and sent to a small French university, in order
that he might form an intimate and accurate acquaintance with the
grand language of the continent. There he continued three years,
at the end of which he went under the care of a French abbe to
Germany and Italy. It was in this latter country that he first
began to cause his guardians serious uneasiness. He was in the
heyday of youth when he visited Italy, and he entered wildly into
the various delights of that fascinating region, and, what was
worse, falling into the hands of certain sharpers, not Italian, but
English, he was fleeced of considerable sums of money. The abbe,
who, it seems, was an excellent individual of the old French
school, remonstrated with his pupil on his dissipation and
extravagance; but, finding his remonstrances vain, very properly
informed the guardians of the manner of life of his charge. They
were not slow in commanding Francis Ardry home; and, as he was
entirely in their power, he was forced to comply. He had been
about three months in London when I met him in the coffee-room, and
the two elderly gentlemen in his company were his guardians. At
this time they were very solicitous that he should choose for
himself a profession, offering to his choice either the army or
law--he was calculated to shine in either of these professions--
for, like many others of his countrymen, he was brave and eloquent;
but he did not wish to shackle himself with a profession. As,
however, his minority did not terminate till he was three-and-
twenty, of which age he wanted nearly two years, during which he
would be entirely dependent on his guardians, he deemed it
expedient to conceal, to a certain degree, his sentiments,
temporising with the old gentlemen, with whom, notwithstanding his
many irregularities, he was a great favourite, and at whose death
he expected to come into a yet greater property than that which he
inherited from his parents.
Such is a brief account of Francis Ardry--of my friend Francis
Ardry; for the acquaintance, commenced in the singular manner with
which the reader is acquainted, speedily ripened into a friendship
which endured through many long years of separation, and which
still endures certainly on my part, and on his--if he lives; but it
is many years since I have heard from Francis Ardry.
And yet many people would have thought it impossible for our
friendship to have lasted a week--for in many respects no two
people could be more dissimilar. He was an Irishman--I, an
Englishman;--he, fiery, enthusiastic, and open-hearted; I, neither
fiery, enthusiastic, nor open-hearted;--he, fond of pleasure and
dissipation; I, of study and reflection. Yet it is of such
dissimilar elements that the most lasting friendships are formed:
we do not like counterparts of ourselves. 'Two great talkers will
not travel far together,' is a Spanish saying; I will add, 'Nor two
silent people'; we naturally love our opposites.
So Francis Ardry came to see me, and right glad I was to see him,
for I had just flung my books and papers aside, and was wishing for
a little social converse; and when we had conversed for some little
time together, Francis Ardry proposed that we should go to the play
to see Kean; so we went to the play, and saw--not Kean, who at that
time was ashamed to show himself, but--a man who was not ashamed to
show himself, and who people said was a much better man than Kean--
as I have no doubt he was--though whether he was a better actor I
cannot say, for I never saw Kean.
Two or three evenings after Francis Ardry came to see me again, and
again we went out together, and Francis Ardry took me to--shall I
say?--why not?--a gaming-house, where I saw people playing, and
where I saw Francis Ardry play and lose five guineas, and where I
lost nothing, because I did not play, though I felt somewhat
inclined; for a man with a white hat and a sparkling eye held up a
box which contained something which rattled, and asked me to fling
the bones. 'There is nothing like flinging the bones!' said he,
and then I thought I should like to know what kind of thing
flinging the bones was; I, however, restrained myself. 'There is
nothing like flinging the bones!' shouted the man, as my friend and
myself left the room.
Long life and prosperity to Francis Ardry! but for him I should not
have obtained knowledge which I did of the strange and eccentric
places of London. Some of the places to which he took me were very
strange places indeed; but, however strange the places were, I
observed that the inhabitants thought there were no places like
their several places, and no occupations like their several
occupations; and among other strange places to which Francis Ardry
conducted me was a place not far from the abbey church of
Before we entered this place our ears were greeted by a confused
hubbub of human voices, squealing of rats, barking of dogs, and the
cries of various other animals. Here we beheld a kind of cock-pit,
around which a great many people, seeming of all ranks, but chiefly
of the lower, were gathered, and in it we saw a dog destroy a great
many rats in a very small period; and when the dog had destroyed
the rats, we saw a fight between a dog and a bear, then a fight
between two dogs, then . . . .
After the diversions of the day were over, my friend introduced me
to the genius of the place, a small man of about five feet high,
with a very sharp countenance, and dressed in a brown jockey coat
and top boots. 'Joey,' said he, 'this is a friend of mine.' Joey
nodded to me with a patronising air. 'Glad to see you, sir!--want
'No,' said I.
'You have got one, then--want to match him?'
'We have a dog at home,' said I, 'in the country; but I can't say I
should like to match him. Indeed, I do not like dog-fighting.'
'Not like dog-fighting!' said the man, staring.
'The truth is, Joe, that he is just come to town.'
'So I should think; he looks rather green--not like dog-fighting!'
'Nothing like it, is there, Joey?'
'I should think not; what is like it? A time will come, and that
speedily, when folks will give up everything else, and follow dog-
'Do you think so?' said I.
'Think so? Let me ask what there is that a man wouldn't give up
'Why,' said I, modestly, 'there's religion.'
'Religion! How you talk. Why, there's myself bred and born an
Independent, and intended to be a preacher, didn't I give up
religion for dog-fighting? Religion, indeed! If it were not for
the rascally law, my pit would fill better on Sundays than any
other time. Who would go to church when they could come to my pit?
Religion! why, the parsons themselves come to my pit; and I have
now a letter in my pocket from one of them, asking me to send him a
'Well, then, politics,' said I.
'Politics! Why, the gemmen in the House would leave Pitt himself,
if he were alive, to come to my pit. There were three of the best
of them here to-night, all great horators.--Get on with you, what
'Why, there's learning and letters.'
'Pretty things, truly, to keep people from dog-fighting. Why,
there's the young gentlemen from the Abbey School comes here in
shoals, leaving books, and letters, and masters too. To tell you
the truth, I rather wish they would mind their letters, for a more
precious set of young blackguards I never seed. It was only the
other day I was thinking of calling in a constable for my own
protection, for I thought my pit would have been torn down by
Scarcely knowing what to say, I made an observation at random.
'You show, by your own conduct,' said I, 'that there are other
things worth following besides dog-fighting. You practise rat-
catching and badger-baiting as well.'
The dog-fancier eyed me with supreme contempt.
'Your friend here,' said he, 'might well call you a new one. When
I talks of dog-fighting, I of course means rat-catching, and
badger-baiting, ay, and bull-baiting too, just as when I speaks
religiously, when I says one I means not one but three. And
talking of religion puts me in mind that I have something else to
do besides chaffing here, having a batch of dogs to send off by
this night's packet to the Pope of Rome.'
But at last I had seen enough of what London had to show, whether
strange or commonplace, so at least I thought, and I ceased to
accompany my friend in his rambles about town, and to partake of
his adventures. Our friendship, however, still continued unabated,
though I saw, in consequence, less of him. I reflected that time
was passing on--that the little money I had brought to town was
fast consuming, and that I had nothing to depend upon but my own
exertions for a fresh supply; and I returned with redoubled
application to my pursuits.
Occupations--Traduttore traditore--Ode to the Mist--Apple and pear-
-Reviewing--Current literature--Oxford-like manner--A plain story--
Ill-regulated mind--Unsnuffed candle--Strange dreams.
I compiled the Chronicles of Newgate; I reviewed books for the
Review established on an entirely new principle; and I occasionally
tried my best to translate into German portions of the publisher's
philosophy. In this last task I experienced more than one
difficulty. I was a tolerable German scholar, it is true, and I
had long been able to translate from German into English with
considerable facility; but to translate from a foreign language
into your own is a widely different thing from translating from
your own into a foreign language; and, in my first attempt to
render the publisher into German, I was conscious of making
miserable failures, from pure ignorance of German grammar; however,
by the assistance of grammars and dictionaries, and by extreme
perseverance, I at length overcame all the difficulties connected
with the German language. But, alas! another difficulty remained,
far greater than any connected with German--a difficulty connected
with the language of the publisher--the language which the great
man employed in his writings was very hard to understand; I say in
his writings--for his colloquial English was plain enough. Though
not professing to be a scholar, he was much addicted, when writing,
to the use of Greek and Latin terms, not as other people used them,
but in a manner of his own, which set the authority of dictionaries
at defiance; the consequence was that I was sometimes utterly at a
loss to understand the meaning of the publisher. Many a quarter of
an hour did I pass at this period, staring at periods of the
publisher, and wondering what he could mean, but in vain, till at
last, with a shake of the head, I would snatch up the pen, and
render the publisher literally into German. Sometimes I was almost
tempted to substitute something of my own for what the publisher
had written, but my conscience interposed; the awful words,
Traduttore traditore, commenced ringing in my ears, and I asked
myself whether I should be acting honourably towards the publisher,
who had committed to me the delicate task of translating him into
German; should I be acting honourably towards him, in making him
speak in German in a manner different from that in which he
expressed himself in English? No, I could not reconcile such
conduct with any principle of honour; by substituting something of
my own in lieu of these mysterious passages of the publisher, I
might be giving a fatal blow to his whole system of philosophy.
Besides, when translating into English, had I treated foreign
authors in this manner? Had I treated the minstrels of the Kaempe
Viser in this manner?--No. Had I treated Ab Gwilym in this manner?
Even when translating his Ode to the Mist, in which he is misty
enough, had I attempted to make Ab Gwilym less misty? No; on
referring to my translation, I found that Ab Gwilym in my hands was
quite as misty as in his own. Then, seeing that I had not ventured
to take liberties with people who had never put themselves into my
hands for the purpose of being rendered, how could I venture to
substitute my own thoughts and ideas for the publisher's, who had
put himself into my hands for that purpose? Forbid it every proper
feeling!--so I told the Germans, in the publisher's own way, the
publisher's tale of an apple and a pear.
I at first felt much inclined to be of the publisher's opinion with
respect to the theory of the pear. After all, why should the earth
be shaped like an apple, and not like a pear?--it would certainly
gain in appearance by being shaped like a pear. A pear being a
handsomer fruit than an apple, the publisher is probably right,
thought I, and I will say that he is right on this point in the
notice which I am about to write of his publication for the Review.
And yet I don't know--said I, after a long fit of musing--I don't
know but what there is more to be said for the Oxford theory. The
world may be shaped like a pear, but I don't know that it is; but
one thing I know, which is, that it does not taste like a pear; I
have always liked pears, but I don't like the world. The world to
me tastes much more like an apple, and I have never liked apples.
I will uphold the Oxford theory--besides, I am writing in an Oxford
Review, and am in duty bound to uphold the Oxford theory. So in my
notice I asserted that the world was round; I quoted Scripture, and
endeavoured to prove that the world was typified by the apple in
Scripture, both as to shape and properties. 'An apple is round,'
said I, 'and the world is round--the apple is a sour, disagreeable
fruit; and who has tasted much of the world without having his
teeth set on edge?' I, however, treated the publisher, upon the
whole, in the most urbane and Oxford-like manner; complimenting him
upon his style, acknowledging the general soundness of his views,
and only differing with him in the affair of the apple and pear.
I did not like reviewing at all--it was not to my taste; it was not
in my way; I liked it far less than translating the publisher's
philosophy, for that was something in the line of one whom a
competent judge had surnamed Lavengro. I never could understand
why reviews were instituted; works of merit do not require to be
reviewed, they can speak for themselves, and require no praising;
works of no merit at all will die of themselves, they require no
killing. The Review to which I was attached was, as has been
already intimated, established on an entirely new plan; it
professed to review all new publications, which certainly no Review
had ever professed to do before, other Reviews never pretending to
review more than one-tenth of the current literature of the day.
When I say it professed to review all new publications, I should
add, which should be sent to it; for, of course, the Review would
not acknowledge the existence of publications, the authors of which
did not acknowledge the existence of the Review. I don't think,
however, that the Review had much cause to complain of being
neglected; I have reason to believe that at least nine-tenths of
the publications of the day were sent to the Review, and in due
time reviewed. I had good opportunity of judging--I was connected
with several departments of the Review, though more particularly
with the poetical and philosophic ones. An English translation of
Kant's philosophy made its appearance on my table the day before
its publication. In my notice of this work I said that the English
shortly hoped to give the Germans a quid pro quo. I believe at
that time authors were much in the habit of publishing at their own
expense. All the poetry which I reviewed appeared to be published
at the expense of the authors. If I am asked how I comported
myself, under all circumstances, as a reviewer--I answer,--I did
not forget that I was connected with a Review established on Oxford
principles, the editor of which had translated Quintilian. All the
publications which fell under my notice I treated in a gentlemanly
and Oxford-like manner, no personalities--no vituperation--no
shabby insinuations; decorum, decorum was the order of the day.
Occasionally a word of admonition, but gently expressed, as an
Oxford undergraduate might have expressed it, or master of arts.
How the authors whose publications were consigned to my colleagues
were treated by them I know not; I suppose they were treated in an
urbane and Oxford-like manner, but I cannot say; I did not read the
reviewals of my colleagues, I did not read my own after they were
printed. I did not like reviewing.
Of all my occupations at this period I am free to confess I liked
that of compiling the Newgate Lives and Trials the best; that is,
after I had surmounted a kind of prejudice which I originally
entertained. The trials were entertaining enough; but the lives--
how full were they of wild and racy adventures, and in what racy,
genuine language were they told! What struck me most with respect
to these lives was the art which the writers, whoever they were,
possessed of telling a plain story. It is no easy thing to tell a
story plainly and distinctly by mouth; but to tell one on paper is
difficult indeed, so many snares lie in the way. People are afraid
to put down what is common on paper, they seek to embellish their
narratives, as they think, by philosophic speculations and
reflections; they are anxious to shine, and people who are anxious
to shine can never tell a plain story. 'So I went with them to a
music booth, where they made me almost drunk with gin, and began to
talk their flash language, which I did not understand,' says, or is
made to say, Henry Simms, executed at Tyburn some seventy years
before the time of which I am speaking. I have always looked upon
this sentence as a masterpiece of the narrative style, it is so
concise and yet so very clear. As I gazed on passages like this,
and there were many nearly as good in the Newgate lives, I often
sighed that it was not my fortune to have to render these lives
into German rather than the publisher's philosophy--his tale of an
apple and pear.
Mine was an ill-regulated mind at this period. As I read over the
lives of these robbers and pickpockets, strange doubts began to
arise in my mind about virtue and crime. Years before, when quite
a boy, as in one of the early chapters I have hinted, I had been a
necessitarian; I had even written an essay on crime (I have it now
before me, penned in a round boyish hand), in which I attempted to
prove that there is no such thing as crime or virtue, all our
actions being the result of circumstances or necessity. These
doubts were now again reviving in my mind; I could not, for the
life of me, imagine how, taking all circumstances into
consideration, these highwaymen, these pickpockets, should have
been anything else than highwaymen and pickpockets; any more than
how, taking all circumstances into consideration, Bishop Latimer
(the reader is aware that I had read Foxe's Book of Martyrs) should
have been anything else than Bishop Latimer. I had a very ill-
regulated mind at that period.
My own peculiar ideas with respect to everything being a lying
dream began also to revive. Sometimes at midnight, after having
toiled for hours at my occupations, I would fling myself back on my
chair, look about the poor apartment, dimly lighted by an unsnuffed
candle, or upon the heaps of books and papers before me, and
exclaim,--'Do I exist? Do these things, which I think I see about
me, exist, or do they not? Is not everything a dream--a deceitful
dream? Is not this apartment a dream--the furniture a dream? The
publisher a dream--his philosophy a dream? Am I not myself a
dream--dreaming about translating a dream? I can't see why all
should not be a dream; what's the use of the reality?' And then I
would pinch myself, and snuff the burdened smoky light. 'I can't
see, for the life of me, the use of all this; therefore why should
I think that it exists? If there was a chance, a probability, of
all this tending to anything, I might believe; but--' and then I
would stare and think, and after some time shake my head and return
again to my occupations for an hour or two; and then I would
perhaps shake, and shiver, and yawn, and look wistfully in the
direction of my sleeping apartment; and then, but not wistfully, at
the papers and books before me; and sometimes I would return to my
papers and books; but oftener I would arise, and, after another
yawn and shiver, take my light, and proceed to my sleeping chamber.
They say that light fare begets light dreams; my fare at that time
was light enough; but I had anything but light dreams, for at that
period I had all kind of strange and extravagant dreams, and
amongst other things I dreamt that the whole world had taken to
dog-fighting; and that I, myself, had taken to dog-fighting, and
that in a vast circus I backed an English bulldog against the
bloodhound of the Pope of Rome.
My brother--Fits of crying--Mayor-elect--The committee--The Norman
arch--A word of Greek--Church and State--At my own expense--If you
One morning I arose somewhat later than usual, having been occupied
during the greater part of the night with my literary toil. On
descending from my chamber into the sitting-room I found a person
seated by the fire, whose glance was directed sideways to the
table, on which were the usual preparations for my morning's meal.
Forthwith I gave a cry, and sprang forward to embrace the person;
for the person by the fire, whose glance was directed to the table,
was no one else than my brother.
'And how are things going on at home?' said I to my brother, after
we had kissed and embraced. 'How is my mother, and how is the
'My mother, thank God, is tolerably well,' said my brother, 'but
very much given to fits of crying. As for the dog, he is not so
well; but we will talk more of these matters anon,' said my
brother, again glancing at the breakfast things: 'I am very
hungry, as you may suppose, after having travelled all night.'
Thereupon I exerted myself to the best of my ability to perform the
duties of hospitality, and I made my brother welcome--I may say
more than welcome; and, when the rage of my brother's hunger was
somewhat abated, we recommenced talking about the matters of our
little family, and my brother told me much about my mother; he
spoke of her fits of crying, but said that of late the said fits of
crying had much diminished, and she appeared to be taking comfort;
and, if I am not much mistaken, my brother told me that my mother
had of late the Prayer-book frequently in her hand, and yet oftener
We were silent for a time--at last I opened my mouth and mentioned
'The dog,' said my brother, 'is, I am afraid, in a very poor way;
ever since the death he has done nothing but pine and take on. A
few months ago, you remember, he was as plump and fine as any dog
in the town; but at present he is little more than skin and bone.
Once we lost him for two days, and never expected to see him again,
imagining that some mischance had befallen him; at length I found
him--where do you think? Chancing to pass by the churchyard, I
found him seated on the grave!'
'Very strange,' said I; 'but let us talk of something else. It was
very kind of you to come and see me.'
'Oh, as for that matter, I did not come up to see you, though of
course I am very glad to see you, having been rather anxious about
you, like my mother, who has received only one letter from you
since your departure. No, I did not come up on purpose to see you;
but on quite a different account. You must know that the
corporation of our town have lately elected a new mayor, a person
of many qualifications--big and portly, with a voice like
Boanerges; a religious man, the possessor of an immense pew; loyal,
so much so that I once heard him say that he would at any time go
three miles to hear any one sing "God save the King"; moreover, a
giver of excellent dinners. Such is our present mayor; who, owing
to his loyalty, his religion, and a little, perhaps, to his
dinners, is a mighty favourite; so much so that the town is anxious
to have his portrait painted in a superior style, so that remote
posterity may know what kind of man he was, the colour of his hair,
his air and gait. So a committee was formed some time ago, which
is still sitting; that is, they dine with the mayor every day to
talk over the subject. A few days since, to my great surprise,
they made their appearance in my poor studio, and desired to be
favoured with a sight of some of my paintings; well, I showed them
some, and, after looking at them with great attention, they went
aside and whispered. "He'll do," I heard one say; "Yes, he'll do,"
said another; and then they came to me, and one of them, a little
man with a hump on his back, who is a watchmaker, assumed the
office of spokesman, and made a long speech--(the old town has been
always celebrated for orators)--in which he told me how much they
had been pleased with my productions--(the old town has been always
celebrated for its artistic taste)--and, what do you think? offered
me the painting of the mayor's portrait, and a hundred pounds for
my trouble. Well, of course I was much surprised, and for a minute
or two could scarcely speak; recovering myself, however, I made a
speech, not so eloquent as that of the watchmaker of course, being
not so accustomed to speaking; but not so bad either, taking
everything into consideration, telling them how flattered I felt by
the honour which they had conferred in proposing to me such an
undertaking; expressing, however, my fears that I was not competent
to the task, and concluding by saying what a pity it was that Crome
was dead. "Crome," said the little man, "Crome; yes, he was a
clever man, a very clever man in his way; he was good at painting
landscapes and farm-houses, but he would not do in the present
instance were he alive. He had no conception of the heroic, sir.
We want some person capable of representing our mayor striding
under the Norman arch out of the cathedral." At the mention of the
heroic an idea came at once into my head. "Oh," said I, "if you
are in quest of the heroic, I am glad that you came to me; don't
mistake me," I continued, "I do not mean to say that I could do
justice to your subject, though I am fond of the heroic; but I can
introduce you to a great master of the heroic, fully competent to
do justice to your mayor. Not to me, therefore, be the painting of
the picture given, but to a friend of mine, the great master of the
heroic, to the best, the strongest, [Greek text]" I added, for,
being amongst orators, I thought a word of Greek would tell.'
'Well,' said I, 'and what did the orators say?'
'They gazed dubiously at me and at one another,' said my brother;
'at last the watchmaker asked me who this Mr. Christo was; adding,
that he had never heard of such a person; that, from my
recommendation of him, he had no doubt that he was a very clever
man; but that they should like to know something more about him
before giving the commission to him. That he had heard of Christie
the great auctioneer, who was considered to be an excellent judge
of pictures; but he supposed that I scarcely--Whereupon,
interrupting the watchmaker, I told him that I alluded neither to
Christo nor to Christie; but to the painter of Lazarus rising from
the grave, a painter under whom I had myself studied during some
months that I had spent in London, and to whom I was indebted for
much connected with the heroic.
'"I have heard of him," said the watchmaker, "and his paintings
too; but I am afraid that he is not exactly the gentleman by whom
our mayor would wish to be painted. I have heard say that he is
not a very good friend to Church and State. Come, young man," he
added, "it appears to me that you are too modest; I like your style
of painting, so do we all, and--why should I mince the matter?--the
money is to be collected in the town, why should it go into a
stranger's pocket, and be spent in London?"
'Thereupon I made them a speech, in which I said that art had
nothing to do with Church and State, at least with English Church
and State, which had never encouraged it; and that, though Church
and State were doubtless very fine things, a man might be a very
good artist who cared not a straw for either. I then made use of
some more Greek words, and told them how painting was one of the
Nine Muses, and one of the most independent creatures alive,
inspiring whom she pleased, and asking leave of nobody; that I
should be quite unworthy of the favours of the Muse if, on the
present occasion, I did not recommend them a man whom I considered
to be a much greater master of the heroic than myself; and that,
with regard to the money being spent in the city, I had no doubt
that they would not weigh for a moment such a consideration against
the chance of getting a true heroic picture for the city. I never
talked so well in my life, and said so many flattering things to
the hunchback and his friends, that at last they said that I should
have my own way; and that if I pleased to go up to London, and
bring down the painter of Lazarus to paint the mayor, I might; so
they then bade me farewell, and I have come up to London.'
'To put a hundred pounds into the hands of--'
'A better man than myself,' said my brother, 'of course.'
'And have you come up at your own expense?'
'Yes,' said my brother, 'I have come up at my own expense.'
I made no answer, but looked in my brother's face. We then
returned to the former subjects of conversation, talking of the
dead, my mother, and the dog.
After some time my brother said, 'I will now go to the painter, and
communicate to him the business which has brought me to town; and,
if you please, I will take you with me and introduce you to him.'
Having expressed my willingness, we descended into the street.
Painter of the heroic--I'll go!--A modest peep--Who is this?--A
capital Pharaoh--Disproportionably short--Imaginary picture--
The painter of the heroic resided a great way off, at the western
end of the town. We had some difficulty in obtaining admission to
him; a maid-servant, who opened the door, eyeing us somewhat
suspiciously: it was not until my brother had said that he was a
friend of the painter that we were permitted to pass the threshold.
At length we were shown into the studio, where we found the
painter, with an easel and brush, standing before a huge piece of
canvas, on which he had lately commenced painting a heroic picture.
The painter might be about thirty-five years old; he had a clever,
intelligent countenance, with a sharp gray eye--his hair was dark
brown, and cut a-la-Rafael, as I was subsequently told, that is,
there was little before and much behind--he did not wear a neck-
cloth; but, in its stead, a black riband, so that his neck, which
was rather fine, was somewhat exposed--he had a broad, muscular
breast, and I make no doubt that he would have been a very fine
figure, but unfortunately his legs and thighs were somewhat short.
He recognised my brother, and appeared glad to see him.
'What brings you to London?' said he.
Whereupon my brother gave him a brief account of his commission.
At the mention of the hundred pounds, I observed the eyes of the
painter glisten. 'Really,' said he, when my brother had concluded,
'it was very kind to think of me. I am not very fond of painting
portraits; but a mayor is a mayor, and there is something grand in
that idea of the Norman arch. I'll go; moreover, I am just at this
moment confoundedly in need of money, and when you knocked at the
door, I don't mind telling you, I thought it was some dun. I don't
know how it is, but in the capital they have no taste for the
heroic, they will scarce look at a heroic picture; I am glad to
hear that they have better taste in the provinces. I'll go; when
shall we set off?'
Thereupon it was arranged between the painter and my brother that
they should depart the next day but one; they then began to talk of
art. 'I'll stick to the heroic,' said the painter; 'I now and then
dabble in the comic, but what I do gives me no pleasure, the comic
is so low; there is nothing like the heroic. I am engaged here on
a heroic picture,' said he, pointing to the canvas; 'the subject is
"Pharaoh dismissing Moses from Egypt," after the last plague--the
death of the first-born; it is not far advanced--that finished
figure is Moses': they both looked at the canvas, and I, standing
behind, took a modest peep. The picture, as the painter said, was
not far advanced, the Pharaoh was merely in outline; my eye was, of
course, attracted by the finished figure, or rather what the
painter had called the finished figure; but, as I gazed upon it, it
appeared to me that there was something defective--something
unsatisfactory in the figure. I concluded, however, that the
painter, notwithstanding what he had said, had omitted to give it
the finishing touch. 'I intend this to be my best picture,' said
the painter; 'what I want now is a face for Pharaoh; I have long
been meditating on a face for Pharaoh.' Here, chancing to cast his
eye upon my countenance, of whom he had scarcely taken any manner
of notice, he remained with his mouth open for some time. 'Who is
this?' said he at last. 'Oh, this is my brother, I forgot to
introduce him.' . . .
We presently afterwards departed; my brother talked much about the
painter. 'He is a noble fellow,' said my brother; 'but, like many
other noble fellows, has a great many enemies; he is hated by his
brethren of the brush--all the land and water scape painters hate
him--but, above all, the race of portrait-painters, who are ten
times more numerous than the other two sorts, detest him for his
heroic tendencies. It will be a kind of triumph to the last, I
fear, when they hear he has condescended to paint a portrait;
however, that Norman arch will enable him to escape from their
malice--that is a capital idea of the watchmaker, that Norman
I spent a happy day with my brother. On the morrow he went again
to the painter, with whom he dined; I did not go with him. On his
return he said, 'The painter has been asking a great many questions
about you, and expressed a wish that you would sit to him as
Pharaoh; he thinks you would make a capital Pharaoh.' 'I have no
wish to appear on canvas,' said I; 'moreover he can find much
better Pharaohs than myself; and, if he wants a real Pharaoh, there
is a certain Mr. Petulengro.' 'Petulengro?' said my brother; 'a
strange kind of fellow came up to me some time ago in our town, and
asked me about you; when I inquired his name, he told me
Petulengro. No, he will not do, he is too short; by the bye, do
you not think that figure of Moses is somewhat short?' And then it
appeared to me that I had thought the figure of Moses somewhat
short, and I told my brother so. 'Ah!' said my brother.
On the morrow my brother departed with the painter for the old
town, and there the painter painted the mayor. I did not see the
picture for a great many years, when, chancing to be at the old
town, I beheld it.
The original mayor was a mighty, portly man, with a bull's head,
black hair, body like that of a dray horse, and legs and thighs
corresponding; a man six foot high at the least. To his bull's
head, black hair, and body the painter had done justice; there was
one point, however, in which the portrait did not correspond with
the original--the legs were disproportionably short, the painter
having substituted his own legs for those of the mayor, which when
I perceived I rejoiced that I had not consented to be painted as
Pharaoh, for, if I had, the chances are that he would have served
me in exactly a similar way as he had served Moses and the mayor.
Short legs in a heroic picture will never do; and, upon the whole,
I think the painter's attempt at the heroic in painting the mayor
of the old town a decided failure. If I am now asked whether the
picture would have been a heroic one provided the painter had not
substituted his own legs for those of the mayor--I must say, I am
afraid not. I have no idea of making heroic pictures out of
English mayors, even with the assistance of Norman arches; yet I am
sure that capital pictures might be made out of English mayors, not
issuing from Norman arches, but rather from the door of the
'Checquers' or the 'Brewers Three.' The painter in question had
great comic power, which he scarcely ever cultivated; he would fain
be a Rafael, which he never could be, when he might have been
something quite as good--another Hogarth; the only comic piece
which he ever presented to the world being something little
inferior to the best of that illustrious master. I have often
thought what a capital picture might have been made by my brother's
friend, if, instead of making the mayor issue out of the Norman
arch, he had painted him moving under the sign of the 'Checquers,'
or the 'Three Brewers,' with mace--yes, with mace,--the mace
appears in the picture issuing out of the Norman arch behind the
mayor,--but likewise with Snap, and with whiffler, quart pot, and
frying-pan, Billy Blind and Owlenglass, Mr. Petulengro and
Pakomovna;--then, had he clapped his own legs upon the mayor, or
any one else in the concourse, what matter? But I repeat that I
have no hope of making heroic pictures out of English mayors, or,
indeed, out of English figures in general. England may be a land
of heroic hearts, but it is not, properly, a land of heroic
figures, or heroic posture-making. Italy . . . what was I going to
say about Italy?
No authority whatever--Interference--Wondrous farrago--Brandt and
Struensee--What a life!--The hearse--Mortal relics--Great poet--
Fashion and fame--What a difference--Oh, beautiful--Good for
And now once more to my pursuits, to my Lives and Trials. However
partial at first I might be to these lives and trials, it was not
long before they became regular trials to me, owing to the whims
and caprices of the publisher. I had not been long connected with
him before I discovered that he was wonderfully fond of interfering
with other people's business--at least with the business of those
who were under his control. What a life did his unfortunate
authors lead! He had many in his employ toiling at all kinds of
subjects--I call them authors because there is something
respectable in the term author, though they had little authorship
in, and no authority whatever over, the works on which they were
engaged. It is true the publisher interfered with some colour of
reason, the plan of all and every of the works alluded to having
originated with himself; and, be it observed, many of his plans
were highly clever and promising, for, as I have already had
occasion to say, the publisher in many points was a highly clever
and sagacious person; but he ought to have been contented with
planning the works originally, and have left to other people the
task of executing them, instead of which he marred everything by
his rage for interference. If a book of fairy tales was being
compiled, he was sure to introduce some of his philosophy,
explaining the fairy tale by some theory of his own. Was a book of
anecdotes on hand, it was sure to be half filled with sayings and
doings of himself during the time that he was common councilman of
the City of London. Now, however fond the public might be of fairy
tales, it by no means relished them in conjunction with the
publisher's philosophy; and however fond of anecdotes in general,
or even of the publisher in particular--for indeed there were a
great many anecdotes in circulation about him which the public both
read and listened to very readily--it took no pleasure in such
anecdotes as he was disposed to relate about himself. In the
compilation of my Lives and Trials I was exposed to incredible
mortification, and ceaseless trouble, from this same rage for
interference. It is true he could not introduce his philosophy
into the work, nor was it possible for him to introduce anecdotes
of himself, having never had the good or evil fortune to be tried
at the bar; but he was continually introducing--what, under a less
apathetic government than the one then being, would have infallibly
subjected him, and perhaps myself, to a trial,--his politics; not
his Oxford or pseudo politics, but the politics which he really
entertained, and which were of the most republican and violent
kind. But this was not all; when about a moiety of the first
volume had been printed, he materially altered the plan of the
work; it was no longer to be a collection of mere Newgate lives and
trials, but of lives and trials of criminals in general, foreign as
well as domestic. In a little time the work became a wondrous
farrago, in which Konigsmark the robber figured by the side of Sam
Lynn, and the Marchioness de Brinvilliers was placed in contact
with a Chinese outlaw. What gave me the most trouble and annoyance
was the publisher's remembering some life or trial, foreign or
domestic, which he wished to be inserted, and which I was forthwith
to go in quest of and purchase at my own expense: some of those
lives and trials were by no means easy to find. 'Where is Brandt
and Struensee?' cries the publisher; 'I am sure I don't know,' I
replied; whereupon the publisher falls to squealing like one of
Joey's rats. 'Find me up Brandt and Struensee by next morning, or-
-' 'Have you found Brandt and Struensee?' cried the publisher, on
my appearing before him next morning. 'No,' I reply, 'I can hear
nothing about them'; whereupon the publisher falls to bellowing
like Joey's bull. By dint of incredible diligence, I at length
discover the dingy volume containing the lives and trials of the
celebrated two who had brooded treason dangerous to the state of
Denmark. I purchase the dingy volume, and bring it in triumph to
the publisher, the perspiration running down my brow. The
publisher takes the dingy volume in his hand, he examines it
attentively, then puts it down; his countenance is calm for a
moment, almost benign. Another moment and there is a gleam in the
publisher's sinister eye; he snatches up the paper containing the
names of the worthies which I have intended shall figure in the
forthcoming volumes--he glances rapidly over it, and his
countenance once more assumes a terrific expression. 'How is
this?' he exclaims; 'I can scarcely believe my eyes--the most
important life and trial omitted to be found in the whole criminal
record--what gross, what utter negligence! Where's the life of
Farmer Patch? where's the trial of Yeoman Patch?'
'What a life! what a dog's life!' I would frequently exclaim, after
escaping from the presence of the publisher.
One day, after a scene with the publisher similar to that which I
have described above, I found myself about noon at the bottom of
Oxford Street, where it forms a right angle with the road which
leads or did lead to Tottenham Court. Happening to cast my eyes
around, it suddenly occurred to me that something uncommon was
expected; people were standing in groups on the pavement--the
upstair windows of the houses were thronged with faces, especially
those of women, and many of the shops were partly, and not a few
entirely, closed. What could be the reason of all this? All at
once I bethought me that this street of Oxford was no other than
the far-famed Tyburn way. Oh, oh, thought I, an execution; some
handsome young robber is about to be executed at the farther end;
just so, see how earnestly the women are peering; perhaps another
Harry Simms--Gentleman Harry as they called him--is about to be
carted along this street to Tyburn tree; but then I remembered that
Tyburn tree had long since been cut down, and that criminals,
whether young or old, good-looking or ugly, were executed before
the big stone gaol, which I had looked at with a kind of shudder
during my short rambles in the City. What could be the matter?
just then I heard various voices cry, 'There it comes!' and all
heads were turned up Oxford Street, down which a hearse was slowly
coming: nearer and nearer it drew; presently it was just opposite
the place where I was standing, when, turning to the left, it
proceeded slowly along Tottenham Road; immediately behind the
hearse were three or four mourning coaches, full of people, some of
whom, from the partial glimpse which I caught of them, appeared to
be foreigners; behind these came a very long train of splendid
carriages, all of which, without one exception, were empty.
'Whose body is in that hearse?' said I to a dapper-looking
individual, seemingly a shopkeeper, who stood beside me on the
pavement, looking at the procession.
'The mortal relics of Lord Byron,' said the dapper-looking
individual, mouthing his words and smirking--'the illustrious poet,
which have been just brought from Greece, and are being conveyed to
the family vault in -shire.'
'An illustrious poet, was he?' said I.
'Beyond all criticism,' said the dapper man; 'all we of the rising
generation are under incalculable obligation to Byron; I myself, in
particular, have reason to say so; in all my correspondence my
style is formed on the Byronic model.'
I looked at the individual for a moment, who smiled and smirked to
himself applause, and then I turned my eyes upon the hearse
proceeding slowly up the almost endless street. This man, this
Byron, had for many years past been the demigod of England, and his
verses the daily food of those who read, from the peer to the
draper's assistant; all were admirers, or rather worshippers, of
Byron, and all doated on his verses; and then I thought of those
who, with genius as high as his, or higher, had lived and died
neglected. I thought of Milton abandoned to poverty and blindness;
of witty and ingenious Butler consigned to the tender mercies of
bailiffs; and starving Otway: they had lived neglected and
despised, and, when they died, a few poor mourners only had
followed them to the grave; but this Byron had been made a half god
of when living, and now that he was dead he was followed by
worshipping crowds, and the very sun seemed to come out on purpose
to grace his funeral. And, indeed, the sun, which for many days
past had hidden its face in clouds, shone out that morn with
wonderful brilliancy, flaming upon the black hearse and its tall
ostrich plumes, the mourning coaches, and the long train of
aristocratic carriages which followed behind.
'Great poet, sir,' said the dapper-looking man, 'great poet, but
Unhappy? yes, I had heard that he had been unhappy; that he had
roamed about a fevered, distempered man, taking pleasure in
nothing--that I had heard; but was it true? was he really unhappy?
was not this unhappiness assumed, with the view of increasing the
interest which the world took in him? and yet who could say? He
might be unhappy, and with reason. Was he a real poet after all?
might he not doubt himself? might he not have a lurking
consciousness that he was undeserving of the homage which he was
receiving? that it could not last? that he was rather at the top of
fashion than of fame? He was a lordling, a glittering, gorgeous
lordling: and he might have had a consciousness that he owed much
of his celebrity to being so; he might have felt that he was rather
at the top of fashion than of fame. Fashion soon changes, thought
I, eagerly to myself--a time will come, and that speedily, when he
will be no longer in the fashion; when this idiotic admirer of his,
who is still grinning at my side, shall have ceased to mould his
style on Byron's; and this aristocracy, squirearchy, and what not,
who now send their empty carriages to pay respect to the
fashionable corpse, shall have transferred their empty worship to
some other animate or inanimate thing. Well, perhaps after all it
was better to have been mighty Milton in his poverty and blindness-
-witty and ingenious Butler consigned to the tender mercies of
bailiffs, and starving Otway; they might enjoy more real pleasure
than this lordling; they must have been aware that the world would
one day do them justice--fame after death is better than the top of
fashion in life. They have left a fame behind them which shall
never die, whilst this lordling--a time will come when he will be
out of fashion and forgotten. And yet I don't know; didn't he
write Childe Harold and that ode? Yes, he wrote Childe Harold and
that ode. Then a time will scarcely come when he will be
forgotten. Lords, squires, and cockneys may pass away, but a time
will scarcely come when Childe Harold and that ode will be
forgotten. He was a poet, after all, and he must have known it; a
real poet, equal to--to--what a destiny! Rank, beauty, fashion,
immortality,--he could not be unhappy; what a difference in the
fate of men--I wish I could think he was unhappy . . . .
I turned away.
'Great poet, sir,' said the dapper man, turning away too, 'but
unhappy--fate of genius, sir; I, too, am frequently unhappy.'
Hurrying down a street to the right, I encountered Francis Ardry.
'What means the multitude yonder?' he demanded.
'They are looking after the hearse which is carrying the remains of
Byron up Tottenham Road.'
'I have seen the man,' said my friend, as he turned back the way he
had come, 'so I can dispense with seeing the hearse--I saw the
living man at Venice--ah, a great poet.'
'Yes,' said I, 'a great poet, it must be so, everybody says so--
what a destiny! What a difference in the fate of men; but 'tis
said he was unhappy; you have seen him, how did he look?'
'But did he look happy?'
'Why, I can't say he looked very unhappy; I saw him with two . . .
very fair ladies; but what is it to you whether the man was unhappy
or not? Come, where shall we go--to Joey's? His hugest bear--'
'Oh, I have had enough of bears, I have just been worried by one.'
'Then come to Joey's, three dogs are to be launched at his bear:
as they pin him, imagine him to be the publisher.'
'No,' said I, 'I am good for nothing; I think I shall stroll to
'That's too far for me--farewell.'
London Bridge--Why not?--Every heart has its bitters--Wicked boys--
Give me my book--Such a fright--Honour bright.
So I went to London Bridge, and again took my station on the spot
by the booth where I had stood on the former occasion. The booth,
however, was empty; neither the apple-woman nor her stall was to be
seen. I looked over the balustrade upon the river; the tide was
now, as before, rolling beneath the arch with frightful
impetuosity. As I gazed upon the eddies of the whirlpool, I
thought within myself how soon human life would become extinct
there; a plunge, a convulsive flounder, and all would be over.
When I last stood over that abyss I had felt a kind of impulse--a
fascination; I had resisted it--I did not plunge into it. At
present I felt a kind of impulse to plunge; but the impulse was of
a different kind; it proceeded from a loathing of life, I looked
wistfully at the eddies--what had I to live for?--what, indeed! I
thought of Brandt and Struensee, and Yeoman Patch--should I yield
to the impulse--why not? My eyes were fixed on the eddies. All of
a sudden I shuddered; I thought I saw heads in the pool; human
bodies wallowing confusedly; eyes turned up to heaven with hopeless
horror; was that water or--? Where was the impulse now? I raised
my eyes from the pool, I looked no more upon it--I looked forward,
far down the stream in the far distance. 'Ha! what is that? I
thought I saw a kind of Fata Morgana, green meadows, waving groves,
a rustic home; but in the far distance--I stared--I stared--a Fata
Morgana--it was gone. . . . '
I left the balustrade and walked to the farther end of the bridge,
where I stood for some time contemplating the crowd; I then passed
over to the other side with an intention of returning home; just
half-way over the bridge, in a booth immediately opposite to the
one in which I had formerly beheld her, sat my friend, the old
apple-woman, huddled up behind her stall.
'Well, mother,' said I, 'how are you?' The old woman lifted her
head with a startled look.
'Don't you know me?' said I.
'Yes, I think I do. Ah, yes,' said she, as her features beamed
with recollection, 'I know you, dear; you are the young lad that
gave me the tanner. Well, child, got anything to sell?'
'Nothing at all,' said I.
'Yes,' said I, 'bad enough, and ill usage.'
'Ah, I suppose they caught ye; well, child, never mind, better luck
next time; I am glad to see you.'
'Thank you,' said I, sitting down on the stone bench; 'I thought
you had left the bridge--why have you changed your side?'
The old woman shook.
'What is the matter with you,' said I; 'are you ill?'
'No, child, no; only--'
'Only what? Any bad news of your son?'
'No, child, no; nothing about my son. Only low, child--every heart
has its bitters.'
'That's true,' said I; 'well, I don't want to know your sorrows;
come, where's the book?'
The apple-woman shook more violently than before, bent herself
down, and drew her cloak more closely about her than before.
'Book, child, what book?'
'Why, blessed Mary, to be sure.'
'Oh, that; I ha'n't got it, child--I have lost it, have left it at
'Lost it,' said I; 'left it at home--what do you mean? Come, let
me have it.'
'I ha'n't got it, child.'
'I believe you have got it under your cloak.'
'Don't tell any one, dear; don't--don't,' and the apple-woman burst
'What's the matter with you?' said I, staring at her.
'You want to take my book from me?'
'Not I, I care nothing about it; keep it, if you like, only tell me
what's the matter?'
'Why, all about that book.'
'Yes, they wanted to take it from me.'
'Why, some wicked boys. I'll tell you all about it. Eight or ten
days ago, I sat behind my stall, reading my book; all of a sudden I
felt it snatched from my hand, up I started, and see three rascals
of boys grinning at me; one of them held the book in his hand.
"What book is this?" said he, grinning at it. "What do you want
with my book?" said I, clutching at it over my stall; "give me my
book." "What do you want a book for?" said he, holding it back; "I
have a good mind to fling it into the Thames." "Give me my book,"
I shrieked; and, snatching at it, I fell over my stall, and all my
fruit was scattered about. Off ran the boys--off ran the rascal
with my book. Oh dear, I thought I should have died; up I got,
however, and ran after them as well as I could; I thought of my
fruit, but I thought more of my book. I left my fruit and ran
after my book. "My book! my book!" I shrieked, "murder! theft!
robbery!" I was near being crushed under the wheels of a cart; but
I didn't care--I followed the rascals. "Stop them! stop them!" I
ran nearly as fast as they--they couldn't run very fast on account
of the crowd. At last some one stopped the rascal, whereupon he
turned round, and flinging the book at me, it fell into the mud;
well, I picked it up and kissed it, all muddy as it was. "Has he
robbed you?" said the man. "Robbed me, indeed; why he had got my
book." "Oh, your book," said the man, and laughed, and let the
rascal go. Ah, he might laugh, but--'
'Well, go on.'
'My heart beats so. Well, I went back to my booth and picked up my
stall and my fruits, what I could find of them. I couldn't keep my
stall for two days I got such a fright, and when I got round I
couldn't bide the booth where the thing had happened, so I came
over to the other side. Oh, the rascals, if I could but see them
'Why, for stealing my book.'
'I thought you didn't dislike stealing,--that you were ready to buy
things--there was your son, you know--'
'Yes, to be sure.'
'He took things.'
'To be sure he did.'
'But you don't like a thing of yours to be taken.'
'No, that's quite a different thing; what's stealing handkerchiefs,
and that kind of thing, to do with taking my book? there's a wide
difference--don't you see?'
'Yes, I see.'
'Do you, dear? well, bless your heart, I'm glad you do. Would you
like to look at the book?'
'Well, I think I should.'
'Honour bright?' said the apple-woman, looking me in the eyes.
'Honour bright,' said I, looking the apple-woman in the eyes.