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receive first-rate treasures, and submitted that it was hard to expose my first attempt to such a dangerous comparison. The appeal, however, was in vain. My beauty assured me that I need fear no comparison there, and gave me as a reward for my labours, the enviable privilege of turning over as many leaves as I pleased. I will not deny that this examination gave me a good heart, for I thought it was not impossible, after all, that I might maintain my credit respectably enough; not that the articles were indifferent, but rather that the perusal of them lighted me up with unwonted fire.
It would be difficult when staring upon the noonday to say which ray is the most beautiful or the most dazzling; and if I instance a few of my brother-contributors I must not be understood as doing it with any view of settling their claims to superiority. I merely go upon the judgment of my pretty friend, who seemed anxious to direct my attention to the lucubrations of a young gentleman who screened himself from fame under the pathetic name of Alphonso. I rather suspect he was her lover, for she described him very affectionately as a melancholy youth, who had an opinion that geniuses were not long-lived, and bad made his will the moment after he had composed his first stanza. I do not wonder that the piece made him low-spirited. It ran as follows:
When I am dead and wafted o'er the billow,
To wail thine absence as the death-watch ticks,
To shade my Ghost, and kiss the limpid Styx.
There will I strike my visionáry chord,
In tones of pity if they may but sound
To sink the bark and let my soul be drowned.
Poor Alphonso! I doubt very much if his plan would have succeeded, for his mistress hinted that he had been so long and so deeply in love that he was not much more substantial than a ghost as it was. To complete the interesting picture, she gave me to understand that she was sure he was a genius and wrote well, for it was generally suspected that he was a little beside himself. Indeed, what I afterwards saw seemed to bear her out in this surmise, for his sentiments were occasionally inclined to be watery, just as though they had slipped through the crack in his head, and his numbers were apt to ramble with a true maniac unsteadiness; but, as he wrote upon nothing that was not either dying or dead, the latter circumstance was considered a great merit, as he imitated the last kick to perfection.
In the next page to Alphonso and the ghost of the willow-tree, my admiration was excited by a remarkably fine spashy dashy drawing, so boldly touched that I had some difficulty in penetrating the mystery of what it meant. I was told, however, by my pretty companion, that it was an assemblage of desolate rocks and rolling clouds, with the ocean far beneath and a rude grave in the foreground, bearing the initials of the artist, and intended as an illustration of some suicidal stanzas by the same hand. This star it appeared had likewise been shining a little too near the moon, though it was affected in a different manner. Alphonso was a gentle being, and was satisfied to fade away like a dying daisy, but the suicide man was a determined misanthrope of the Byron school, and kept his friends in a turmoil lest he should wring his
own neck—a blood that would have laughed Charon's boat to scorn, and swam the Styx as lief as look at it. He had met with two or three disappointments in love, and had been choused out of happiness till he very properly learnt to despise it. Every thing he drew or wrote had a smack of bitterness, and was particularly fine fer a bold indication of what is called free-thinking, but making designs for his grave, which were usually in cross roads, and his numerous epitaphs, of which I counted about twenty, were, out of sight, his most congenial occupation. Most willingly would I treat the reader with some of the former, but I have not yet been long enough apprenticed to my new avocation to be much of a hand at engraving, and the suicide's style is very difficult to copy. I will give him one of the epitaphs, however, and welcome.
Ay, call me back to life again,
And wash with tears my peaceful tomb
I cannot hear the hateful strain,
And, if I could, I would not come.
There is something very striking in this obstinate determination expressed in such sullen brevity, and I could perceive a pensive irresolution in the eye of my young friend, as to which of her two heroes should be sacrificed. It no doubt requires much deliberation, and I hope and trust that she will not decide hastily. I enquired after the suicide yesterday, and found that he was still living.
It was quite a relief to turn from this intense study to a series of flower-drawings by a gentle young lady who had not been prevailed upon to exhibit without great solicitation. She was, however, one of my favourite's long string of bosom friends and confidants. The sweetest sympathizer in all her cares, and unhappily attached to Alphonso, who had doomed her, like himself, to a Stygian willow wreath. There was no doing without such a dear contributor as this, and, indeed, her performances were interesting to a degree. It was pleasingly melancholy to behold them. Her roses were as pale as if they had been in love themselves, and the butterflies which fluttered about them, were one and all, dying of consumptions. There was no positive colouring or touching-softness was her peculiar characteristic, and any appearance of vigour would have been rejected as absolutely indelicate. I was told that the bouquets were for the most part fashioned for the indication of some tender sentiment, or the exhibition of some beloved face which was formed by the outline of the flowers; and, after a diligent search, I found Alphonso peeping through a broken heart's-ease, and the fair artist, hard by, in a flower-of-love-lies-bleeding. There was an affecting simplicity in these conceits which perfectly atoned for the projectress's want of poetical talent. She had no particular knack at originality, though she was thought to select with great taste. She had copied all the performances of Hafiz and the Princess Olive from the Morning Post, and several privately circulated pieces, which were supposed to be the production of Lord Byron himself. I ventured to differ upon some of these, but my young friend satisfied me of their genuineness, by assuring me that they had been transcribed from an Album somewhere near Mont Blanc.
After this I was introduced to some witty conceits by a middle aged rubicund roue, who cocked his hat and his eye, and set up for a wag.
He practised chiefly in the Anacreontic line, and would have been excellent had he not sometimes been "a little too bad." His rhymes likewise were apt, occasionally, to be faulty, and he was in the habit of taking great poetical licences to bring them to bear. His style, therefore, was pronounced to be ungraceful, and my lady of the Album wished the odious creature would leave her book alone. Before I had time to become better acquainted with him, she laughed and blushed, and slapped it together, with a vow that I should not proceed unless I promised to pass him over. I regret that this circumstance prevents me from favouring the public with more than one stanza.
Sweet maiden, when I you behold,
I care not that for all the world
Then why should hearts like ours sever?
Now here it may be alleged that the inversion of the first line is not elegant, and the necessity of snapping your fingers at the word "that," in the second, is decidedly in bad taste. "Ours," in the third line, is strained, with great poetical violence, into a dissyllable; the sense of the fourth is not quite apparent, and the rhyme of "world" and "behold" is unusual. Altogether, this stanza is a very fair specimen of the faults and beauties of its author.
From hence I wandered through a great many pages of excellent riddles, with which I will not treat my reader, lest he should stop to puzzle them out. Numerous copies of Madonnas and children, of which the only defect was a trifling inclination to squint, it being very difficult to make the eyes match. Wonderous landscapes, by little persons of four years old, who never learnt to draw. Autographs of John Brown and William Williams, and many other celebrated gentlemen whom I did not know, but of whose families I had often heard talk. Fac-similes of the hand-writing of Bonaparte, imitated from specimens from recollection. Striking likenesses of notorious characters, cut out in coloured paper from imagination. In short, my progress was like a ramble through some newly discovered country, where every thing is rare and riveting, and thrown together in the graceful confusion in which nature delights.
When I had come to a close, my pretty friend resumed her coaxing look, and besought me to take up my pen, for she was quite sure that I should not be eclipsed; and, moreover, that I should not be severely criticised. Her friends had the keenest eyes in the world for talent, and could spy it in every thing they saw; and, if her father chose to call them madmen and fools, it was a comfort to think that no one agreed with him. The command, therefore, was cheerfully obeyed, and I joined the throng of geniuses, by filling the title-page with the following appropriate dedication.
THE NINTH VOLUME.
ACRE, 148-Voyage from Alexandria
to the monks, ib.-characteristics of
Amanieu des Escas, the complaint of,
Animals sick of the plague, the, 340.
April fools, 419.
Ballads, Provincial, No. I, 62—II, 249.
vindication of himself, ib. 528-his de-
Cunning, on, 156.
Dangeau's Memoirs of the court of
Dictionary, specimen of a patent pocket,
Don Esteban, or memoirs of a Spaniard,
Fable, a, 383.
Lady's Album, a, 613.
Lay of the wandering Arab, 101.
East, Letters from, 40. 148. 283. 469, Lectures on poetry, IX. 1-Greek drama-
Elba, the return from, 482.
Eton, recollections of, 497.
tic poetry, 2-distinctions of the Greek
Fine Arts, the influence of the, 453.
Jerusalem, 283. 371. 469. 557.
Kemble, John, and the British stage, 572.
Letters from the East, XI 40-XII. 148
to Country Cousins, London, No.
II. 196-III. 490.
written after reading " Antommar-
a lady's parting address to, 282
will find out a way, 353.
Manuscript of Earl Bothwel, 521,
Matrimonial squabble, the, 243.