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Sneer. I will. [To Dangle.] Yes, yes, I remember perfectly.
Sir Well, and pray now-not that it signifies; what might the gentleman say?
Sneer. Why, he roundly asserts that you have not the slightest invention or original genius whatever: though you are the greatest Iraducer of all other authors livirg:
Sir F. Ha! ha! ha! Very good! Sneer That, as to Comedy, you have not one idea of your own, he believes, even in your common-placebook, where stray jokes and pilfered witticisms are kept with as much method as the ledger of the Lost and Stolen Office.
Sir F. Ha! ha! ha! Very pleasant !
Sneer. Nay, that you are so unlucky as not to have the skill even so steal with taste: but that you glean from the refuse of obscure volumes, where more judicious plagiarists have been before you; so that the body of your work is a composition of dregs and sediments, like a bad tavern's worst wine.
Sir F. Ha! ha!
Sneer. In your more serious efforts, he says, your bombast would be less intolerable, if the thoughts were ever suited to the expression ; but the homeliness of the sentiment stares through the fantastic encumbrance of its fine language, like a clown in one of the new uniforms!
Sir F. Ha! ha!
Sneer. That your occasional tropes and flowers suit the general coarseness of your style, as tambour sprigs would a ground of linsey-wolsey; while your imitations of Shakspeare resemble the mimicry of Falstaff's Page, and about as near the standard of the original.
Sir F. Ha!
Sneer. In short, that even the finest passages you steal are of no service to you; for the poverty of your own language prevents their assimilating ; so that they lie on the surface like lumps of marl on a barren
moor, encumbering what it is not in their power to fertilize!
Sir F. [ After great agitation.] Now, another person would be vex'd at this.
Sneer. Oh! but I wouldn't have told you, only to
Sir F. I know it-I am diverted, -Ha! ha! ha! not the least invention !-Ha! ha! ha! very good! very good!
Sneer. Yes-no genius! Ha! ha! ha!
Dan A severe rogüe! ha! ha! But you are quite right, Sir Fretful, never to read such nonsense.
Sir F. To be sure-for, if there is any thing to one's praise, it is a foolish vanity to be gratified at it; and if it is abuse,—why one is always sure to hear of it from one damu’d good-natur'd friend or another!
Enter SERVANT. Ser. Mr. Puff, sir, has sent word that the last rehearsal is to be this morning, and that he'll calt on you presently.
Dan. That's true-I shall certainly be at home. [Exit Servant.] Now, Sir Frelful, if you have a mind to have justice done you in the way of answer -Egad, Mr. Puff's your man.
Sir F. Pshaw! sir, why should I wish to have it answered, when I tell you I am pleased at it ?
Dan. True, I had forgot that.—But I hope you are not fretted at what Mr. Sneer
Sir F. Zounds! no, Mr. Dangle, don't I tell you these things never fret me in the least.
Dan. Nay, I only thought
Sir F. And let me tell you, Mr. Dangle, 'tis damn'd affronting in you to suppose that I am hurt, when I tell you I am not.
Sneer. But why so warm, Sir Fretful?
Sir F. Gad's life! Mr. Sneer, you are as absurd as Dangle: how often must I repeat it to you, that nothing can vex me but your supposing it possible for me to mind the damn'd nonsense you have been re
peating to me! And let me tell you, if you continue to believe this, you must mean to insult me, gentlemen--and then your disrespect will affect me no more than the newspaper criticisms—and I shall treat it with exactly the same calm indifference, and philosophic contempl-and so your servant. [Exit.
Sneer. Ha! ha! ha! Poor sir Fretful! Now will he go and vent his philosophy in anonymous abuse of all modern critics and authors. But, Dangle, you must get your friend Puff to take me to the rehearsal of his tragedy.
Dan. i'll answer for't, he'll thank you for desir
Puff to you.
Puff. Mr. Sneer is this? Sir, he is a gentleman whom I have long panted for the honour of knowing a gentleman, whose critical talents and transcendant judgment
Sneer. Dear sir
Dan. Nay, don't be modest, Sneer; my friend Puff only talks to you in the style of his profession.
Sneer. His profession!
Puff. Yes, sir; I make no secret of the trade I follow-among friends and brother authors, Dangle knows I love to be frank on the subject, and to advertise myself viva voce.-I am, sir, a Practitioner in Panegyric, or, to speak more plainly-a Professor of the Art of Puffing, at your service-or any body else's.
Sneer. Sir, you are very obliging !-I believe, Mr. Puff, I have often admired your talents in the daily prints.
Puff. Yes, sir, I flatter myself I do as much business in that way as any six of the fraternity in town-Devilish hard work all the summer-Friend Dangle never work'd harder!-But harkee,-the Winter Managers were a little sore, I believe.
Dan. No! I believe they took it all in good part.
Puff. Aye!—Then that must have been affectation in them; for, egad, there were some of the attacks which there was no laughing at!
Sneer. Aye, the humorous ones. But I should think, Mr. Puff, that authors would in general be able to do this sort of work for themselves.
Puff: Why, yes—but in a clumsy way. Besides, we look on that as an encroachment, and so take the opposite side. I dare say now you conceive half the very civil paragraphs and advertisements you see, to be written by the parties concerned, or their friends? No such thing. Nine out of ten, manufactured by me in the way of business.
Puff. Even the auctioneers now the auctioneers , I say, though the rogues have lately got some credit for their language--not an article of the merit their's! -Take them out of their pulpits, and they are as dull as catalogues!--No, sir; 'twas I first enriched their style—'twas I first taught them to crowd their advertisements with panegyrical superlatives, each epithet rising above the other-like the bidders in their own auction-rooms! From me they learn'd to enlay their phraseology with variegated chips of exotic metaphor! by me, too, their inventive faculties were called forth. Yes, sir, by me they were instructed to clothe ideal walls with gratuitous fruit-to insinuate obsequious rivulets into visionary grovesto teach courteous shrubs to nod their approbation of the grateful soil! or, on emergencies, to raise upstart oaks, where there never had been an acorn; to create a delightful vicinage, without the assistance of a neighbour; or fix the temple of Hygeia in the fens of Lincolnshire!
Dan. I am sure you have done them infinite service; for
when a gentleman is ruined, he parts with his house with some credit.
Sneer. Service! if they had any gratitude, they would erect a statue to him. But pray, Mr. Puff, what first put you on exercising your talents in this way?
Puff. Egad, sir-sheer necessity-the proper parent of an art so nearly allied to invention; you must know, Mr. Sneer, that from the first time I tried my hand at an advertisement, my snccess was such, that, for some time after, I led a most extraordinary life indeed!
Sneer. How, pray?
Puff. Sir, I supported myself two years entirely by my misfortunes. Sneer. By your misfortunes ?
Puff. Yes, sir, assisted by long sickness, and other occasional disorders; and a very comforlable living I had of it.
Sneer. From sickness and misfortune!
Puff. Harkee!—By advertisements--'To the charitable and humane!' and 'to those whom Providence hath blessed with affluence!'
Sneer. Oh,-I understand you.
Puff. And, in truth, I deserved what I got, for I suppose never man went through sach a series of calamities in the same space of time !-Sir, I was five times made a bankrupt, and reduced from a state of affluence, by a train of unavoidable misfortunes! Then,
sir, though a very industrious tradesman, I was twice burn out, and lost my little all, both times! I lived upon those fires a month. I soon after was confined by a most excruciating disorder, and lost the use of my limbs! That told very well; for I had the case strongly attested, and went about to collect the subscriptions myself.
Dan. Egad, I believe that was when you first called