He had now become a young man of extreme fashion, and as much repandu in society as the utmost and most exigent coveter of London celebrity could desire. He was, of course, a member of the clubs, etc. He was, in short, of that oft-described set before whom all minor beaux sink into insignificance, or among whom they eventually obtain a subaltern grade, by a sacrifice of a due portion of their fortune. — Almack’s Revisited.
By the soul of the great Malebranche, who made “A Search after Truth,” and discovered everything beautiful except that which he searched for — by the soul of the great Malebranche, whom Bishop Berkeley found suffering under an inflammation in the lungs, and very obligingly talked to death (an instance of conversational powers worthy the envious emulation of all great metaphysicians and arguers) — by the soul of that illustrious man, it is amazing to us what a number of truths there are broken up into little fragments, and scattered here and there through the world. What a magnificent museum a man might make of the precious minerals, if he would but go out with his basket under his arm, and his eyes about him! We ourselves picked up this very day a certain small piece of truth, with which we propose to explain to thee, fair reader, a sinister turn in the fortunes of Paul.
“Wherever,” says a living sage, “you see dignity, you may be sure there is expense requisite to support it.” So was it with Paul. A young gentleman who was heir-presumptive to the Mug, and who enjoyed a handsome person with a cultivated mind, was necessarily of a certain station of society, and an object of respect in the eyes of the manoeuvring mammas of the vicinity of Thames Court. Many were the parties of pleasure to Deptford and Greenwich which Paul found himself compelled to attend; and we need not refer our readers to novels upon fashionable life to inform them that in good society the gentlemen always pay for the ladies! Nor was this all the expense to which his expectations exposed him. A gentleman could scarcely attend these elegant festivities without devoting some little attention to his dress; and a fashionable tailor plays the deuce with one’s yearly allowance.
We who reside, be it known to you, reader, in Little Brittany are not very well acquainted with the manners of the better classes in St. James’s. But there was one great vice among the fine people about Thames Court which we make no doubt does not exist anywhere else — namely, these fine people were always in an agony to seem finer than they were; and the more airs a gentleman or a lady gave him or her self, the more important they became. Joe, the dog’s-meat man, had indeed got into society entirely from a knack of saying impertinent things to everybody; and the smartest exclusives of the place, who seldom visited any one where there was not a silver teapot, used to think Joe had a great deal in him because he trundled his cart with his head in the air, and one day gave the very beadle of the parish “the cut direct.”
Now this desire to be so exceedingly fine not only made the society about Thames Court unpleasant, but expensive. Every one vied with his neighbour; and as the spirit of rivalry is particularly strong in youthful bosoms, we can scarcely wonder that it led Paul into many extravagances. The evil of all circles that profess to be select is high play; and the reason is obvious: persons who have the power to bestow on another an advantage he covets would rather sell it than give it; and Paul, gradually increasing in popularity and ton, found himself, in spite of his classical education, no match for the finished, or, rather, finishing gentlemen with whom he began to associate. His first admittance into the select coterie of these men of the world was formed at the house of Bachelor Bill, a person of great notoriety among that portion of the elite which emphatically entitles itself “Flash.” However, as it is our rigid intention in this work to portray at length no episodical characters whatsoever, we can afford our readers but a slight and rapid sketch of Bachelor Bill.
This personage was of Devonshire extraction. His mother had kept the pleasantest public-house in town, and at her death Bill succeeded to her property and popularity. All the young ladies in the neighbourhood of Fiddler’s Row, where he resided, set their caps at him: all the most fashionable prigs, or tobymen, sought to get him into their set; and the most crack blowen in London would have given her ears at any time for a loving word from Bachelor Bill. But Bill was a longheaded, prudent fellow, and of a remarkably cautious temperament. He avoided marriage and friendship; namely, he was neither plundered nor cornuted. He was a tall, aristocratic cove, of a devilish neat address, and very gallant, in an honest way, to the blowens. Like most single men, being very much the gentleman so far as money was concerned, he gave them plenty of “feeds,” and from time to time a very agreeable hop. His bingo [Brandy] was unexceptionable; and as for his stark-naked [Gin], it was voted the most brilliant thing in nature. In a very short time, by his blows-out and his bachelorship — for single men always arrive at the apex of haut ton more easily than married — he became the very glass of fashion; and many were the tight apprentices, even at the west end of the town, who used to turn back in admiration of Bachelor Bill, when of a Sunday afternoon he drove down his varment gig to his snug little box on the borders of Turnham Green. Bill’s happiness was not, however, wholly without alloy. The ladies of pleasure are always so excessively angry when a man does not make love to them, that there is nothing they will not say against him; and the fair matrons in the vicinity of Fiddler’s Row spread all manner of unfounded reports against poor Bachelor Bill. By degrees, however — for, as Tacitus has said, doubtless with a prophetic eye to Bachelor Bill, “the truth gains by delay,”— these reports began to die insensibly away; and Bill now waxing near to the confines of middle age, his friends comfortably settled for him that he would be Bachelor Bill all his life. For the rest, he was an excellent fellow — gave his broken victuals to the poor, professed a liberal turn of thinking, and in all the quarrels among the blowens (your crack blowens are a quarrelsome set!) always took part with the weakest. Although Bill affected to be very select in his company, he was never forgetful of his old friends; and Mrs. Margery Lobkins having been very good to him when he was a little boy in a skeleton jacket, he invariably sent her a card to his soirees. The good lady, however, had not of late years deserted her chimney-corner. Indeed, the racket of fashionable life was too much for her nerves; and the invitation had become a customary form not expected to be acted upon, but not a whit the less regularly used for that reason. As Paul had now attained his sixteenth year, and was a fine, handsome lad, the dame thought he would make an excellent representative of the Mug’s mistress; and that, for her protege, a ball at Bill’s house would be no bad commencement of “Life in London.” Accordingly, she intimated to the Bachelor a wish to that effect; and Paul received the following invitation from Bill:—
“Mr. William Duke gives a hop and feed in a quiet way on Monday next, and hops Mr. Paul Lobkins will be of the party. N. B. Gentlemen is expected to come in pumps.”
When Paul entered, he found Bachelor Bill leading off the ball to the tune of “Drops of Brandy,” with a young lady to whom, because she had been a strolling player, the Ladies Patronesses of Fiddler’s Row had thought proper to behave with a very cavalier civility. The good Bachelor had no notion, as he expressed it, of such tantrums, and he caused it to be circulated among the finest of the blowens, that he expected all who kicked their heels at his house would behave decent and polite to young Mrs. Dot. This intimation, conveyed to the ladies with all that insinuating polish for which Bachelor Bill was so remarkable, produced a notable effect; and Mrs. Dot, being now led off by the flash Bachelor, was overpowered with civilities the rest of the evening.
When the dance was ended, Bill very politely shook hands with Paul, and took an early opportunity of introducing him to some of the most “noted characters” of the town. Among these were the smart Mr. Allfair, the insinuating Henry Finish, the merry Jack Hookey, the knowing Charles Trywit, and various others equally noted for their skill in living handsomely upon their own brains, and the personals of other people. To say truth, Paul, who at that time was an honest lad, was less charmed than he had anticipated by the conversation of these chevaliers of industry. He was more pleased with the clever though self-sufficient remarks of a gentleman with a remarkably fine head of hair, and whom we would more impressively than the rest introduce to our reader under the appellation of Mr. Edward Pepper, generally termed Long Ned. As this worthy was destined afterwards to be an intimate associate of Paul, our main reason for attending the hop at Bachelor Bill’s is to note, as the importance of the event deserves, the epoch of the commencement of their acquaintance.
Long Ned and, Paul happened to sit next to each other at supper, and they conversed together so amicably that Paul, in the hospitality of his heart, expressed a hope that he should see Mr. Pepper at the Mug!
“Mug — Mug!” repeated Pepper, half shutting his eyes, with the air of a dandy about to be impertinent; “ah, the name of a chapel, is it not? There’s a sect called Muggletonians, I think?”
“As to that,” said Paul, colouring at this insinuation against the Mug, “Mrs. Lobkins has no more religion than her betters; but the Mug is a very excellent house, and frequented by the best possible company.”
“Don’t doubt it!” said Ned. “Remember now that I was once there, and saw one Dummie Dunnaker — is not that the name? I recollect some years ago, when I first came out, that Dummie and I had an adventure together; to tell you the truth, it was not the sort of thing I would do now. But — would you believe it, Mr. Paul? — this pitiful fellow was quite rude to me the only time I ever met him since; that is to say, the only time I ever entered the Mug. I have no notion of such airs in a merchant — a merchant of rags! Those commercial fellows are getting quite insufferable.”
“You surprise me,” said Paul. “Poor Dummie is the last man to be rude; he is as civil a creature as ever lived.”
“Or sold a rag,” said Ned. “Possibly! Don’t doubt his amiable qualities in the least. Pass the bingo, my good fellow. Stupid stuff, this dancing!”
“Devilish stupid!” echoed Harry Finish, across the table. “Suppose we adjourn to Fish Lane, and rattle the ivories! What say you, Mr. Lobkins?”
Afraid of the “ton’s stern laugh, which scarce the proud philosopher can scorn,” and not being very partial to dancing, Paul assented to the proposition; and a little party, consisting of Harry Finish, Allfair, Long Ned, and Mr. Hookey, adjourned to Fish Lane, where there was a club, celebrated among men who live by their wits, at which “lush” and “baccy” were gratuitously sported in the most magnificent manner. Here the evening passed away very delightfully, and Paul went home without a “brad” in his pocket.
From that time Paul’s visits to Fish Lane became unfortunately regular; and in a very short period, we grieve to say, Paul became that distinguished character, a gentleman of three outs — “out of pocket, out of elbows, and out of credit.” The only two persons whom he found willing to accommodate him with a slight loan, as the advertisements signed X. Y. have it, were Mr. Dummie Dunnaker and Mr. Pepper, surnamed the Long. The latter, however, while he obliged the heir to the Mug, never condescended to enter that noted place of resort; and the former, whenever he good-naturedly opened his purse-strings, did it with a hearty caution to shun the acquaintance of Long Ned — “a parson,” said Dummie, “of wery dangerous morals, and not by no manner of means a fit ‘sociate for a young gemman of cracter like leetle Paul!” So earnest was this caution, and so especially pointed at Long Ned — although the company of Mr. Allfair or Mr. Finish might be said to be no less prejudicial — that it is probable that stately fastidiousness of manner which Lord Normanby rightly observes, in one of his excellent novels, makes so many enemies in the world, and which sometimes characterized the behaviour of Long Ned, especially towards the men of commerce, was a main reason why Dummie was so acutely and peculiarly alive to the immoralities of that lengthy gentleman. At the same time we must observe that when Paul, remembering what Pepper had said respecting his early adventure with Mr. Dunnaker, repeated it to the merchant, Dummie could not conceal a certain confusion, though he merely remarked, with a sort of laugh, that it was not worth speaking about; and it appeared evident to Paul that something unpleasant to the man of rags, which was not shared by the unconscious Pepper, lurked in the reminiscence of their past acquaintance. How beit, the circumstance glided from Paul’s attention the moment afterwards; and he paid, we are concerned to say, equally little heed to the cautions against Ned with which Dummie regaled him.
Perhaps (for we must now direct a glance towards his domestic concerns) one great cause which drove Paul to Fish Lane was the uncomfortable life he led at home. For though Mrs. Lobkins was extremely fond of her protege, yet she was possessed, as her customers emphatically remarked, “of the devil’s own temper;” and her native coarseness never having been softened by those pictures of gay society which had, in many a novel and comic farce, refined the temperament of the romantic Paul, her manner of venting her maternal reproaches was certainly not a little revolting to a lad of some delicacy of feeling. Indeed, it often occurred to him to leave her house altogether, and seek his fortunes alone, after the manner of the ingenious Gil Blas or the enterprising Roderick Random; and this idea, though conquered and reconquered, gradually swelled and increased at his heart, even as swelleth that hairy ball found in the stomach of some suffering heifer after its decease. Among these projects of enterprise the reader will hereafter notice that an early vision of the Green Forest Cave, in which Turpin was accustomed, with a friend, a ham, and a wife, to conceal himself, flitted across his mind. At this time he did not, perhaps, incline to the mode of life practised by the hero of the roads; but he certainly clung not the less fondly to the notion of the cave.
The melancholy flow of our hero’s life was now, however, about to be diverted by an unexpected turn, and the crude thoughts of boyhood to burst, “like Ghilan’s giant palm,” into the fruit of a manly resolution.
Among the prominent features of Mrs. Lobkins’s mind was a sovereign contempt for the unsuccessful. The imprudence and ill-luck of Paul occasioned her as much scorn as compassion; and when for the third time within a week he stood, with a rueful visage and with vacant pockets, by the dame’s great chair, requesting an additional supply, the tides of her wrath swelled into overflow.
“Look you, my kinchin cove,” said she — and in order to give peculiar dignity to her aspect, she put on while she spoke a huge pair of tin spectacles — “if so be as how you goes for to think as how I shall go for to supply your wicious necessities, you will find yourself planted in Queer Street. Blow me tight, if I gives you another mag.”
“But I owe Long Ned a guinea,” said Paul; “and Dummie Dunnaker lent me three crowns. It ill becomes your heir apparent, my dear dame, to fight shy of his debts of honour.”
“Taradididdle, don’t think for to wheedle me with your debts and your honour,” said the dame, in a passion. “Long Ned is as long in the forks [fingers] as he is in the back; may Old Harry fly off with him! And as for Durnmie Dunnaker, I wonders how you, brought up such a swell, and blest with the wery best of hedications, can think of putting up with such wulgar ‘sociates. I tells you what, Paul, you’ll please to break with them, smack and at once, or devil a brad you’ll ever get from Peg Lobkins.” So saying, the old lady turned round in her chair, and helped herself to a pipe of tobacco.
Paul walked twice up and down the apartment, and at last stopped opposite the dame’s chair. He was a youth of high spirit; and though he was warm-hearted, and had a love for Mrs. Lobkins, which her care and affection for hire well deserved, yet he was rough in temper, and not constantly smooth in speech. It is true that his heart smote him afterwards, whenever he had said anything to annoy Mrs. Lobkins, and he was always the first to seek a reconciliation; but warm words produce cold respect, and sorrow for the past is not always efficacious in amending the future. Paul then, puffed up with the vanity of his genteel education, and the friendship of Long Ned (who went to Ranelagh, and wore silver clocked stockings), stopped opposite to Mrs. Lobkins’s chair, and said with great solemnity —
“Mr. Pepper, madam, says very properly that I must have money to support myself like a gentleman; and as you won’t give it me, I am determined, with many thanks for your past favours, to throw myself on the world, and seek my fortune.”
If Paul was of no oily and bland temper, Dame Margaret Lobkins, it has been seen, had no advantage on that score. (We dare say the reader has observed that nothing so enrages persons on whom one depends as any expressed determination of seeking independence.) Gazing therefore for one moment at the open but resolute countenance of Paul, while all the blood of her veins seemed gathering in fire and scarlet to her enlarging cheeks, Dame Lobkins said —
“Ifeaks, Master Pride-induds! seek your fortune yourself, will you? This comes of my bringing you up, and letting you eat the bread of idleness and charity, you toad of a thousand! Take that and be d — d to you!” and, suiting the action to the word, the tube which she had withdrawn from her mouth in order to utter her gentle rebuke whizzed through the air, grazed Paul’s cheek, and finished its earthly career by coming in violent contact with the right eye of Duinmie Dunnaker, who at that exact moment entered the room.
Paul had winced for a moment to avoid the missive; in the next he stood perfectly upright. His cheeks glowed, his chest swelled; and the entrance of Dummie Dunuaker, who was thus made the spectator of the affront he had received, stirred his blood into a deeper anger and a more bitter self-humiliation. All his former resolutions of departure, all the hard words, the coarse allusions, the practical insults he had at any time received, rushed upon him at once. He merely cast one look at the old woman, whose rage was now half subsided, and turned slowly and in silence to the door.
There is often something alarming in an occurrence merely because it is that which we least expect. The astute Mrs. Lobkins, remembering the hardy temper and fiery passions of Paul, had expected some burst of rage, some vehement reply; and when she caught with one wandering eye his parting look, and saw him turn so passively and mutely to the door, her heart misgave her, she raised herself from her chair, and made towards him. Unhappily for her chance of reconciliation, she had that day quaffed more copiously of the bowl than usual; and the signs of intoxication visible in her uncertain gait, her meaningless eye, her vacant leer, her ruby cheek, all inspired Paul with feelings which at the moment converted resentment into something very much like aversion. He sprang from her grasp to the threshold.
“Where be you going, you imp of the world?” cried the dame. “Get in with you, and say no more on the matter; be a bob-cull — drop the bullies, and you shall have the blunt!”
But Paul heeded not this invitation.
“I will eat the bread of idleness and charity no longer,” said he, sullenly. “Good-by; and if ever I can pay you what I have cost you, I will.”
He turned away as he spoke; and the dame, kindling with resentment at his unseemly return to her proffered kindness, hallooed after him, and bade that dark-coloured gentleman who keeps the fire-office below go along with him.
Swelling with anger, pride, shame, and a half-joyous feeling of emancipated independence, Paul walked on, he knew not whither, with his head in the air, and his legs marshalling themselves into a military gait of defiance. He had not proceeded far before he heard his name uttered behind him; he turned, and saw the rueful face of Dummie Dunnaker.
Very inoffensively had that respectable person been employed during the last part of the scene we have described in caressing his afflicted eye, and muttering philosophical observations on the danger incurred by all those who are acquainted with ladies of a choleric temperament; when Mrs. Lobkins, turning round after Paul’s departure, and seeing the pitiful person of that Dummie Dunnaker, whose name she remembered Paul had mentioned in his opening speech, and whom, therefore, with an illogical confusion of ideas, she considered a party in the late dispute, exhausted upon him all that rage which it was necessary for her comfort that she should unburden somewhere.
She seized the little man by the collar — the tenderest of all places in gentlemen similarly circumstanced with regard to the ways of life — and giving him a blow, which took effect on his other and hitherto undamaged eye, cried out —
“I’ll teach you, you blood-sucker [that is, parasite], to sponge upon those as has expectations! I’ll teach you to cozen the heir of the Mug, you snivelling, whey-faced ghost of a farthing rushlight! What! you’ll lend my Paul three crowns, will you, when you knows as how you told me you could not pay me a pitiful tizzy? Oh, you’re a queer one, I warrants; but you won’t queer Margery Lobkins. Out of my ken, you cur of the mange! — out of my ken; and if ever I claps my sees on you again, or if ever I knows as how you makes a flat of my Paul, blow me tight but I’ll weave you a hempen collar — I’ll hang you, you dog, I will. What! you will answer me, will you? Oh, you viper, budge and begone!”
It was in vain that Dummie protested his innocence. A violent coup-depied broke off all further parlance. He made a clear house of the Mug; and the landlady thereof, tottering back to her elbow-chair, sought out another pipe, and, like all imaginative persons when the world goes wrong with them, consoled herself for the absence of realities by the creations of smoke.
Meanwhile Dummie Dunnaker, muttering and murmuring bitter fancies, overtook Paul, and accused that youth of having been the occasion of the injuries he had just undergone. Paul was not at that moment in the humour best adapted for the patient bearing of accusations. He answered Mr. Dunnaker very shortly; and that respectable individual, still smarting under his bruises, replied with equal tartness. Words grew high, and at length Paul, desirous of concluding the conference, clenched his fist, and told the redoubted Dummie that he would “knock him down.” There is something peculiarly harsh and stunning in those three hard, wiry, sturdy, stubborn monosyllables. Their very sound makes you double your fist if you are a hero, or your pace if you are a peaceable man. They produced an instant effect upon Dummie Dunnaker, aided as they were by the effect of an athletic and youthful figure, already fast approaching to the height of six feet, a flushed cheek, and an eye that bespoke both passion and resolution. The rag-merchant’s voice sank at once, and with the countenance of a wronged Cassius he whimpered forth —
“Knock me down? O leetle Paul, vot wicked vhids are those! Vot! Dummie Dunnaker, as has dandled you on his knee mony’s a time and oft! Vy, the cove’s ‘art is as ‘ard as junk, and as proud as a gardener’s dog vith a nosegay tied to his tail.” This pathetic remonstrance softened Paul’s anger.
“Well, Dummie,” said he, laughing, “I did not mean to hurt you, and there’s an end of it; and I am very sorry for the dame’s ill-conduct; and so I wish you a good-morning.”
“Vy, vere be you trotting to, leetle Paul?” said Dummie, grasping him by the tail of the coat.
“The deuce a bit I know,” answered our hero; “but I think I shall drop a call on Long Ned.”
“Avast there!” said Dummie, speaking under his breath; “if so be as you von’t blab, I’ll tell you a bit of a secret. I heered as ‘ow Long Ned started for Hampshire this werry morning on a toby [Highway expedition] consarn!”
“Ha!” said Paul, “then hang me if I know what to do!”
As he uttered these words, a more thorough sense of his destitution (if he persevered in leaving the Mug) than he had hitherto felt rushed upon him; for Paul had designed for a while to throw himself on the hospitality of his Patagonian friend, and now that he found that friend was absent from London and on so dangerous an expedition, he was a little puzzled what to do with that treasure of intellect and wisdom which he carried about upon his legs. Already he had acquired sufficient penetration (for Charles Trywit and Harry Finish were excellent masters for initiating a man into the knowledge of the world) to perceive that a person, however admirable may be his qualities, does not readily find a welcome without a penny in his pocket. In the neighbourhood of Thames Court he had, indeed, many acquaintances; but the fineness of his language, acquired from his education, and the elegance of his air, in which he attempted to blend in happy association the gallant effrontery of Mr. Long Ned with the graceful negligence of Mr. Augustus Tomlinson, had made him many enemies among those acquaintances; and he was not willing — so great was our hero’s pride — to throw himself on the chance of their welcome, or to publish, as it were, his exiled and crestfallen state. As for those boon companions who had assisted him in making a wilderness of his pockets, he had already found that that was the only species of assistance which they were willing to render him. In a word, he could not for the life of him conjecture in what quarter he should find the benefits of bed and board. While he stood with his finger to his lip, undecided and musing, but fully resolved at least on one thing — not to return to the Mug — little Dummie, who was a good-natured fellow at the bottom, peered up in his face, and said —
“Vy, Paul, my kid, you looks down in the chops; cheer up — care killed a cat!”
Observing that this appropriate and encouraging fact of natural history did not lessen the cloud upon Paul’s brow, the acute Dummie Dunnaker proceeded at once to the grand panacea for all evils, in his own profound estimation.
“Paul, my ben cull,” said he, with a knowing wink, and nudging the young gentleman in the left side, “vot do you say to a drop o’ blue ruin? or, as you likes to be conish [genteel], I does n’t care if I sports you a glass of port!” While Dunnaker was uttering this invitation, a sudden reminiscence flashed across Paul: he bethought him at once of MacGrawler; and he resolved forthwith to repair to the abode of that illustrious sage, and petition at least for accommodation for the approaching night. So soon as he had come to this determination, he shook off the grasp of the amiable Dummie, and refusing with many thanks his hospitable invitation, requested him to abstract from the dame’s house, and lodge within his own until called for, such articles of linen and clothing as belonged to Paul and could easily be laid hold of, during one of the matron’s evening siestas, by the shrewd Dunnaker. The merchant promised that the commission should be speedily executed; and Paul, shaking hands with him, proceeded to the mansion of MacGrawler.
We must now go back somewhat in the natural course of our narrative, and observe that among the minor causes which had conspired with the great one of gambling to bring our excellent Paul to his present situation, was his intimacy with MacGrawler; for when Paul’s increasing years and roving habits had put an end to the sage’s instructions, there was thereby lopped off from the preceptor’s finances the weekly sum of two shillings and sixpence, as well as the freedom of the dame’s cellar and larder; and as, in the reaction of feeling, and the perverse course of human affairs, people generally repent the most of those actions once the most ardently incurred, so poor Mrs. Lobkins, imagining that Paul’s irregularities were entirely owing to the knowledge he had acquired from MacGrawler’s instructions, grievously upbraided herself for her former folly in seeking for a superior education for her protege; nay, she even vented upon the sacred head of MacGrawler himself her dissatisfaction at the results of his instructions. In like manner, when a man who can spell comes to be hanged, the anti-educationists accuse the spelling-book of his murder. High words between the admirer of ignorant innocence and the propagator of intellectual science ensued, which ended in MacGrawler’s final expulsion from the Mug.
There are some young gentlemen of the present day addicted to the adoption of Lord Byron’s poetry, with the alteration of new rhymes, who are pleased graciously to inform us that they are born to be the ruin of all those who love them — an interesting fact, doubtless, but which they might as well keep to themselves. It would seem by the contents of this chapter as if the same misfortune were destined to Paul. The exile of MacGrawler, the insults offered to Dummie Dunnaker — alike occasioned by him — appear to sanction that opinion. Unfortunately, though Paul was a poet, he was not much of a sentimentalist; and he has never given us the edifying ravings of his remorse on those subjects. But MacGrawler, like Dunnaker, was resolved that our hero should perceive the curse of his fatality; and as he still retained some influence over the mind of his quondam pupil, his accusations against Paul, as the origin of his banishment, were attended with a greater success than were the complaints of Dummie Dunnaker on a similar calamity. Paul, who, like most people who are good for nothing, had an excellent heart, was exceedingly grieved at MacGrawler’s banishment on his account; and he endeavoured to atone for it by such pecuniary consolations as he was enabled to offer. These MacGrawler (purely, we may suppose, from a benevolent desire to lessen the boy’s remorse) scrupled not to accept; and thus, so similar often are the effects of virtue and of vice, the exemplary MacGrawler conspired with the unprincipled Long Ned and the heartless Henry Finish in producing that unenviable state of vacuity which now saddened over the pockets of Paul.
As our hero was slowly walking towards the sage’s abode, depending on his gratitude and friendship for a temporary shelter, one of those lightning flashes of thought which often illumine the profoundest abyss of affliction darted across his mind. Recalling the image of the critic, he remembered that he had seen that ornament of “The Asinaeum” receive sundry sums for his critical lucubrations.
“Why,” said Paul, seizing on that fact, and stopping short in the street — “why should I not turn critic myself?”
The only person to whom one ever puts a question with a tolerable certainty of receiving a satisfactory answer is one’s self. The moment Paul started this luminous suggestion, it appeared to him that he had discovered the mines of Potosi. Burning with impatience to discuss with the great MacGrawler the feasibility of his project, he quickened his pace almost into a run, and in a very few minutes, having only overthrown one chimney-sweeper and two apple-women by the way, he arrived at the sage’s door.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:06