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the likeness of, people invisible to Every man who has had his Ger you and me Is this making of man tutor, and has been coached people out of fancy madness? and through the famous “ Faust” of are novel-writers at all entitled to Goethe (thou wert my instructor, strait-waistcoats? I often forget peo- good old Weissenborn, and these eyes ple's names in life; and in my own beheld the great master himself in stories contritely own that I make dear little Weimar town!) has read dreadful blunders regarding them ; those charming verses which are prebut I declare, my dear sir, with re- fixed to the drama, in which the poet spect to the personages introduced reverts to the time when his work was into your humble servant's fables, I first composed, and recalls the friends know the people utterly -I know now departed, who once listened to the sound of their voices. A gentle- his song. The dear shadows rise up man came in to see me the other day, around him, he says; he lives in the who was so like the picture of Philip past again. It is to-day which apFirmin in Mr. Walker's charming pears vague and visionary. We humdrawings in “The Cornhill Maga- bler writers cannot create Fausts, or zine;" that he was quite a curiosity to raise up monumental works that shall me. The same eyes, beard, shoul- endure for all ages : but our books ders, just as you have seen them from are diaries, in which our own feelings month to month. Well, he is not must of necessity be set down. As like the Philip Firmin in my mind. we look to the page written last Asleep, asleep in the grave, lies the month, or ten years ago, we remembold, the generous, the reckless, the ber the day and its events; the child tender-hearted creature whom I have ill, mayhap, in the adjoining room, made to pass through those adven- and the doubts and fears which racked tures which have just been brought the brain as it still pursued its work ; to an end. It is years since I heard the dear old friend who read the the laughter ringing, or saw the bright commencement of the tale, and whose blue eyes. When I knew him, both gentle hand shall be laid in ours no were young. I become young as I more. I own for my part that, in think of him. And this morning he reading pages which this hand penned was alive again in this room, ready formerly, I often lose sight of the text to laugh, to fight, to weep. As I under my eyes. It is not the words write, do you know, it is the gray of I see; but that past day; that bygone evening; the house is quiet; every- page of life's history, that tragedy, body is out: the room is getting a comedy it may be, which our little little dark, and I look rather wistful- home company was enacting; that ly up from the paper with perhaps merrymaking which we shared ; that ever so little fancy that HE MAY funeral which we followed ; that bitCOME IN No? No move- ter, bitter grief which we buried. ment. No gray shade, growing more And, such being the state of my palpable, out of which at last look the mind, I pray gentle readers to deal well-known eyes. No, the printer kindly with their humble servant's came and took him away with the manifold short-comings, blunders, and last page of the proofs. And with slips of memory. As sure as I read the printer's boy did the whole cortège a page of my own composition, I find of ghosts flit away, invisible? Ha! a fault or two, half a dozen. Jones stay! what is this? Angels and min- is called Brown. Brown, who is isters of grace! The door opens, and dead, is brought to life. Aghast, and a dark form-enters, bearing a black months after the number was printed, - a black suit of clothes. It is John. I saw that I had called Philip FirHe says it is time to dress for dinner. min, Clive Newcome. Now Clive
Newcome is the hero of another story
by the reader's most obedient writer. | the rest. A doze ensues. Pleasing The two men are as different, in my book drops suddenly, is picked up mind's eye, as - as Lord Palmerston once with an air of some confus and Mi. Disraeli let us say. But sion, is laid presently softly in there is that blunder at page 990, line lap: head falls on comfortable arm. 76, volume 84 of “ The Cornhill chair cushion : eyes close: soft nasal Magazine,” and it is past mending; music is heard. Am I telling Club and I wish in my life I had made secrets ? Of afternoons, after lunch, no worse blunders or errors than that I say, scores of sensible fogies have a which is hereby acknowledged. doze. Perhaps I have fallen asleep
Another Finis written. Another over that very book to which “ Finis mile-stone passed on this journey from has just been written. “ And if the birth to the next world ! Sure it is writer sleeps, what happens to the a subject for solemn cogitation. Shall readers ? ” says Jones, coming down 'we continue this story-telling busi- upon me with his lightning wit. ness, and be voluble to the end of What? You did sleep over it? And our age? Will it not be presently a very good thing too. time, o prattler, to hold your tongue, have more than once seen a friend and let younger people speak? I dozing over pages which this hand have a friend, a painter, who, like has written. There is a vignette other persons who shall be nameless, somewhere in one of my books of a is growing old. He has never painted friend so caught napping with “Penwith such laborious finish as his works dennis,” or the “ Newcomes,” in his now show. This master is still the lap; and if a writer can give you a most humble and diligent of scholars. sweet, soothing, harmless sleep, has Of Art, his mistress, he is always an he not done you a kindness? So is eager, reverent pupil. In his calling, the author who excites and interests in yours, in mine, industry and humil- you worthy of your thanks and beneity will help and comfort us. A word dictions. I am troubled with fever with you. 'In a pretty large experi- and ague, that seizes me at odd interence I have not found the men who vals and prostrates me for a day. write books superior in wit or learn- There is cold fit, for which, I am thanking to those who don't write at all. ful to say, hot brandy and water In regard of mere information, non- is prescribed, and this induces hot writers must often be superior to fit, and so on. In one or two of these writers. You don't expect a lawyer fits I have read novels with the most in full practice to be conversant with fearful contentment of mind. Once, all kinds of literature; he is too busy on the Mississippi, it was my dearly with his law; and so a writer is com- beloved “ Jacob Faithful: once at monly too busy with his own books Frankfort 0. M., the delightful to be able to bestow attention on the “ Vingt Ans Après” of Monsieur works of other people. After a day's Dumas: once at Tunbridge Wells, work (in which I have been depicting, the thrilling “Woman in White : " let us say, the agonies of Louisa on and these books gave me amusement parting with the Captain, or the atro- from morning till sunset. I rememcious behavior of the wicked Marquis ber those ague fits with a great deal to Lady Emily), I march to the Club, of pleasure and gratitude. Think of proposing to improve my mind and a whole day in bed, and a good novel keep myself posted up, as the for a companion ! No cares: no reAmericans phrase it, with the litera- morse about idleness:
no visitors : ture of the day. And what happens ? and the Woman in White or the Given, a walk after luncheon, a pleas- Chevalier d'Artagnan to tell me stoing book, and a most comfortable ries from dawn till night! “Please, arm-chair by the fire, and you know I ma'am, my master's compliments,
and can he have the third volume ? rel with a certain well-known person (This message was sent to an aston- (I believed a statement regarding ished friend and neighbor who lent me him which his friends imparted to me, volume by volume, the W. in W.) and which turned out to be quite inHow do you like your novels? I like correct). To his dying day that mine strong, “hot with,” and no mis- quarrel was never quite made up. I take: no love-making: no observa- said to his brother, “Why is your tions about society: little dialogue, brother's soul still dark against me? except where the characters are bully- It is I who ought to be angry and ing each other : plenty of fighting : unforgiving : for I was in the wrong." and a villain in the cupboard, who is In the region which they now inhabit to suffer tortures just before Finis. I (for Finis has been set to the volumes don't like your melancholy Finis. I of the lives of both here below), if never read the history of a consump- they take any cognizance of our tive heroine twice. if I might give a squabbles, and tittle-tattles, and gosshort hint to an impartial writer (as sips on earth here, I hope they admit “ The Examiner” used to say in old that my little error was not of a nature days), it would be to act not à la mode unpardonable. If you have never le pays de Pole (I think that was the committed a worse, my good sir, surephraseology), but always to give quar- ly the score against you will not be
In the story of Philip, just come heavy. Ha, dilectissimi fratres ! It to an end, I have the permission of is in regard of sins not found out that the author to state that he was going we may say or sing (in an undertone, to drown the two villains of the piece in a most penitent and lugubrious - a certain Doctor Fand a cer- minor-key), Miserere nobis miseris pectain Mr. T. Hon board “ The catoribus. President," or some other tragic ship Among the sins of commission - but you see I relented. I pictured which novel-writers not seldom perto myself Firmin's ghastly face amid petrate, is the sin of grandiloquence, the crowd of shuddering people on or tall-talking, against which for my that reeling deck in the lonely ocean, part, I will offer up a special libera and thought, “ Thou ghastly lying me. This is the sin of schoolmasters, wretch, thou shall not be drowned : governesses, critics, sermoners, and thou shalt have a fever only; a knowl- instructors of young or old people. edge of thy danger; and a chance Nay (for I am making a clean breast, ever so small a chance - of repent- and liberating my soul), perhaps of ance." I wonder whether he did all the novel-spinners now extant, repent when he found himself in the the present speaker is the most adyellow-fever in Virginia ? The proba- dicted to preaching. Does he not bility is, he fancied that his son had stop perpetually in his story and injured him very much, and forgave begin to preach to you? When he him on his deathbed. Do you ima- ought to be engaged with business, is gine there is a great deal of genuine he not forever taking the Muse by right-down remorse in the world ? the sleeve, and plaguing her with Don't people rather find excuses some of his cynical sermons? I cry which make their minds easy ; endea- peccavi loudly and heartily. I tell vor to prove to themselves that they you I would like to be able to write a have been lamentably belied and mis- story which should show no egotism understood; and try and forgive the whatever -- in which there should be persecutors who will present that bill no reflections, no cynicism, no vulwhen it is due; and not bear malice garity (and so forth), but an incident against the cruel ruffian who takes in every other page, a villain, a batthem to the police office for stealing tle, a mystery, in every chapter. I the spoons? 'Years ago I had a quar- I should like to be able to feed a reader
so spicily as to leave him hungering whistling, and moaning through the and thirsting for more at the end of speaking pipes of his bodily organ? every monthly meal.
I have told you it was a very queer Alexandre Dumas describes him- shock to me the other day when, with self, when inventing the plan of a a letter of introduction in his hand, work, as lying silent on his back for the artist's (not my) Philip Firmin two whole days on the deck of a walked into this room, and sat down yacht in a Mediterranean port. At in the chair opposite. In the novel of the end of the two days he arose and “Pendennis," written ten years ago, called for dinner. In those two days there is an account of a certain Costihe had built his plot. He had gan, whom I had invented (as I supmoulded a mighty clay, to be cast pose authors invent their personages presently in perennial brass. The out of scraps, heel-taps, odds and chapters, the characters, the incidents, ends of characters). I was smoking the combinations, were all arranged in a tavern parlor one night - and in the artist's brain ere he set a pen this Costigan came into the room to paper. My Pegasus won't fly, so alive - the very man : - the most reas to let me survey the field below me. markable resemblance of the printed He has no'wings, he is blind of one sketches of the man, of the rude eye certainly, he is restive, stubborn, drawings in which I had depicted slow; crops a hedge when he ought him. He had the same little coat, to be galloping, or gallops when he the same battered hat, cocked on one ought to be quiet. He never will eye, the same twinkle in that eye. show off when I want him. Some- "Sir,” said I, knowing him to be times he goes at a pace which surprises an old friend whom I had met in unme. Sometimes, when I most wish known regions,“ sir,” I said, “ may him to make the running, the brute I offer you a glass of brandy and turns restive, and I am obliged to let water?" Bedad, ye may," says he, him take his own time. I wonder“ and I'll sing ye 1 song tu.' do other novel-writers experience this course he spoke with an Irish brogue. fatalism? They must go a certain Of course he had been in the army. way, in spite of themselves. I In ten minutes he pulled out an Army have been surprised at the observa- Agent's account, whereon his name tions made by some of my characters. was written. A few months after we It seems as if an occult Power was read of him in a police court. How moving the pen. The personage had I come to know him, to divine does or says something, and I ask, him? Nothing shall convince me how the dickens did he come to think that I have not seen that man in the of that? Every man has remarked world of spirits. In the world of in dreams the vast dramatic power spirits and water I know I did: but which is sometimes evinced; I won't that is a mere quibble of words. I say the surprising power, for nothing was not surprised when he spoke in does surprise you in dreams. But an Irish brogue. I had had cognithose strange characters you meet zance of him before somehow. Who make instant observations of which has not felt that little shock which you never can have thought previ- arises when a person, a place, some ously. In like manner, the imagina- words in a book (there is always a tion foretells things. We spake anon collocation) present themselves to of the inflated style of some writers. you, and you know that you have What also if there is an afflated style, before met the same person, words, — when a writer is like a Pythoness scene, and so forth? on her oracle tripod, and mighty They used to call the good Sir words, words which he cannot help, Walter the “Wizard of the North. come blowing, and bellowing, and What if some writer should appear
who can write so enchantingly that he | dull old pages! Oh, the cares, the shall be able to call into actual life the ennui, the squabbles, the repetitions, people whom he invents? What if the old conversations over and over Mignon, and Margaret, and Goetz again! But now and again a kind von Berlichingen are alive now thought is recalled, and now and (though I don't say they are visible), again a dear memory. Yet a few and Dugald Dalgetty and Ivanhoe chapters more, and then the last : were to step in at that open window by after which, behold Finis itself come the little garden yonder?. Suppose to an end, and the Infinite begun. Uncas and our noble old Leather Stocking were to glide silent in ? Suppose Athos, Porthos, and Aramis should enter with a noiseless swag ON A PEAL OF BELLS. ger, curling their mustaches? And dearest Amelia Booth, on Uncle As some bells in a church hard by Toby's arm; and Tittlebat Titmouse, are making a great holiday clanging with his hair dyed green; and all the in the summer afternoon, I am reCrummles company of comedians, minded, somehow, of a July day, a with the Gil Blas troop; and Sir garden, and a great clanging of bells Roger De Coverley; and the greatest years and years ago, on the very day of all crazy gentlemen, the Knight when George IV. was crowned. "I reof La Mancha, with his blessed member a little boy lying in that garsquire ? I say to you, I look rather den reading his first novel. It was wistfully towards the window, musing called “ The Scottish Chiefs.” The upon these people. Were any of little boy (who is now ancient and not them to enter, I think I should not little) read this book in the summerbe very much frightened. Dear old house of his great grandmamma. friends what pleasant hours I have She was eighty years of age then. A had with them! We do not see most lovely and picturesque old lady, each other very often, but when we do, with a long tortoise-shell cane, with a we are ever happy to meet. I had a little puff, or tour, of snow-white (or capital half hour with Jacob Faithful was it powdered ?) hair under her cap, last night; when the last sheet was with the prettiest little black-velvet corrected, when “Finis” had been slippers and high heels you ever saw. written, and the printer's boy, with She had a grandson, a lieutenant in the copy, was safe in Green Arbor the navy; son of her son, a captain in Court.
the navy; grandson of her husband, So you are gone, little printer's a captain in the 'navy. She lived for boy with the last scratches and cor scores and scores of years in a dear rections on the proof, and a fine little old Hampshire town inhabited by flourish by way of Finis at the the wives, widows, daughters of navy story's end. The last corrections ? captains, admirals, lieutenants. Dear I say those last corrections seem me! Don't I remember Mrs. Duval, never to be finished. A plague upon widow of Admiral Duval ; and the the weeds! Every day, when I walk Miss Dennets, at the Great House at in my own little literary garden-plot, | the other end of the town, Admiral I spy some, and should like to have a Dennet's daughters; and the Miss spud, and root them out. Those idle Barrys, the late Captain Barry's words, neighbor, are past remedy. daughters ; and the good old Miss That turning back to the old pages Maskews, Admiral Maskews's daughproduces any thing but elation of ter; and that dear little Miss Norval, mind. Would you not pay a pretty and the kind Miss Bookers, one of fine to be able to cancel some of whom married Captain, now Admiral, them? Oh, the sad old pages, the Sir Henry Excellent, K.C.B.? Far,