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style, as tambour sprigs would a ground of linsey-woolsey, while your imitations of Shakespeare resemble the mimicry of Falstaff's page, and are about as near the standard of the original.
Sir Fret. 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 Fret. [After great agitation. Now, another person would be vexed at this !
Sneer. Oh! but I wouldn't have told youonly to divert you.
Sir Fret. I know it-I am diverted.-Ha! ha! ha!—not the least invention !-Ha! ha! ha !--very good !-very good!
Sncer. Yes-no genius! ha! ha! ha!
Dang. A severe rogue ! ha! ha! ha! But you are quite right, Sir Fretful, never to read such nonsense.
Sir Fret. To be sure—for if there is anything 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 damned good-natured friend or another !
Dang. Now, Sir Fretful, if you have a mind to have justice done you in the way of answer, egad, Mr. Puff's your man.
Sir Fret. Psha! sir, why should I wish to have it answered, when I tell you I am pleased at it?
Dang. True, I had forgot that. But I hope you are not fretted at what Mr. Sneer
Sir Fret. Zounds! no, Mr. Dangle; don't I tell you these things never fret me in the least?
Dang. Nay, I only thought-
Sir Fret. And let me tell you, Mr. Dangle, 'tis damned affronting in you to suppose that I am hurt when I tell you I am not.
Sneer. But why so warm, Sir Fretful?
Sir Fret. 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 damned nonsense you have been repeating 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 contempt--and so your servant.
Ser. Mr. Puff, sir.
[Exit. Enter PUFF. Dang. My dear Puff! Puff. My dear Dangle, how is it with you?
Dang. Mr. Sneer, give me leave to introduce Mr. Puff to you.
Puff. Mr. Sneer is this ?-Sir, he is gentleman whose critical talents and transcendent judgment
Sneer. Dear sir
Dang. 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 anybody else's.
Sncer. 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 worked harder! But, hark’ee—the winter managers were a little sore, I believe.
Dang. No, I believe they took it all in good part.
Puff. Ay! then that must have been affectation in them; for, egad, there were some of the attacks which there was no laughing at!
Sneer. Ay, 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-o-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. Sneer. Indeed !
Puff. Even the auctioneers now the auctioneers, I say—though the rogues have lately got some credit for their languagenot an article of the merit theirs; 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 learned to inlay 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 fruits—to insinuate obsequious rivulets into visionary groves—to teach courteous shrubs to nod their approbation of the grateful soil; ar, on emergencies, to raise upstart oaks, where there never had been an acorn; to create a delightful vicinage without the assistance of a neighbor; or fix the temple of Hygeia in the fens of Lincolnshire !
Dang. I am sure you have done them infinite service; for now, 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; they would figure him as a presiding Mercury, the god of traffic and fiction, with a hammer in his hand instead of a caduceus.—But pray, Mr. Puff,