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House, or at Mr. B.'s halls in Bedfordshire or Lincolnshire, and feel that I saw and knew all his heroes and heroines. All I mean is, that there are passages even in him, which, from the danger of example, had better have been kept out of sight.
“ Then as to Rousseau, whom I believe I also named, I need only quote his own preface to the Eloise-( Let no woman of virtue read this work, for if she does she will be lost')—to prove that he comes completely within the scope of Lord Lonsdale's anathema upon pernicious books. On that account, these should never be read, I should say, by any unmarried woman-certainly not a very young one. But enough of this subject.”
Seeing that he wished to quit it for some other, I said nothing more than what was true, that he had placed it in a new light, and had forced me to agree with him. It made me indeed recall all that
unfortunate friend the pedlar told me, of the effect made upon him by the stories in Gil Blas, and I repeated it to my companion.
This gave Mr. Manners some pleasure, as confirming his opinions. It seems, however, that notwithstanding the mischiefs he allowed Gil Blas had often occasioned, he was a great admirer of the Seigneur de Santilanne; not indeed for his probity, for, as he said, he was what the Duke of Lerma called him a little of the picaroon ;--but for the interest, as well as fidelity, to say nothing of their romance, of his pictures of human nature. At the same time, I found that a principal reason for his love for him was the early recollections (for it was one of the earliest books he
had read) which the perusal of him always brought along with it.
The pleasures of these early recollections, of whatever kind, was, it seems, a favourite point with Manners, in his creed as to happiness. In his reading, therefore, those books were sure always to please which had first excited his mind as a child. This he carried so far as to derive no inconsiderable part of the pleasures from thumbing over the identical volumes, with their plates, figures, or little maps, which had so early engaged him.
In respect to Gil Blas, which brought on this part of the conversation, he had almost a mystic regard for the four little duodecimos which are known to most people.
They are soiled and dog's-eared,” said he, “but they bring back my youth with a feeling of even affection; nor would I exchange those uncouth old cuts of Sa Seigneurie avec son Sécretaire Scipion dans leur calèche ; or, the Château of Llirias ; or that most notable lover, Don Gascon de Cogollos, guitar in hand, and hat and cloak on peg in the castle of Segovia-no, not for the most splendid edition of all Le Sage's works.”
When I rather wondered at this, he said, yourself too young to want early associations to refresh and soothe you; but be assured, after having battled with mankind, they are the most exquisite and purest pleasures you can enjoy ; for they bring back that happy time of innocence and heart-springing gaiety, before the world has got hold of you, which no suc
66 You are
cess in that world, whether in ambition, or the pursuit of fortune, can ever either equal or recall.”
Charming recollections,” said I; “ but can they really compensate for having abandoned your career in life? for, as you have hinted, you were once ambitious."
“ I was like Macbeth,” said he; “ in the days of his innocence,
Not without ambition, but without
“ Did you find the illness then so early ?”
" I found, from the struggles of my contemporaries, that their’s was made of sterner stuff than mine ; and from the little enjoyment it seemed to give them when attained, to say nothing of strifes and jealousies, I agreed that it was 'of so airy and light a quality, that it was but a shadow's shadow.'
“ Yet surely a passion for fame is noble. It is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise.'”
“ Yes ; but the poet who said so, said likewise, it was an infirmity, though, as you say, 'of noble mind.' But I wish not to damp your career, whatever it may be. By all means see mankind, and judge for yourself, and Heaven preserve you from that morbid fastidiousness which unfitted me so soon for any thing but the life I now lead. I own, in a worldly point of view, it was a great
fault.” " It should seem so,” said I ; " and the world must lament it."
In this I was most sincere, for my respect for his mind rose with every part of our conversation.
“ It only moves my wonder,” added I, “ that you should so soon abandon such an incentive to virtue as fame, whether an infirmity or not.”
“ Why, after all," observed he, “Fame is but a sorry jade-a liar, and a jilt. How many hundreds, who have climbed to the top of her ladder, have either tumbled off of themselves, or been pushed off by others, or by a sly jerk of her own? What has become of the Harleys, the Pulteneys? What became of Swift, growling in banishment for thirty years ? What did all Bolingbroke's fine parts do for him? Why did he leave the Loire, and come back to the Thames, merely to suffer a ten years' fever of disappointment, and then return? Surely, then, ambition is but a phantom, and sometimes a very ugly one. Even Cæsar, in his highest glory, felt it; for, as says
* Fame is the shade of Immortality ;
No; the calm recollections of what I was, before I had advanced to manhood, are worth all that I have since seen and felt, twenty times over.”
“ You would, perhaps, even wish for your schooldays again?
“ Most assuredly. Not a day passes in this solitude of mine, cheerful as it is, in which I do not
* Young. Night 7.
indulge that wish, from the reminiscences it brings of those happy hours,
• When all was innocence and all was gay,
And trifles charm’d, for every month was May.' Or, in better language still,
• When nature pleased, for life itself was new,
And the heart promised what the fancy drew."" Pleased with these quotations, as well as the sentiment, and seeing him pause, I begged him to proceed, which he did.
" That is not,” said he, “now my case ; but here I sit, sometimes by the hour, revolving in my mind, now life is fast advancing, all that once made life so pleasing. You see these portraits and landscapes. I want them not to recall the scenes and feelings with which they are associated, for they are always present to me; but they add a zest and vividness to my recollections of those who are gone, upon which, now that the pangs occasioned by their loss are softened by time, I absolutely feast. He whom you are looking at, who has an air all over gentleman, honourable, kind, and good, was my earliest and most loved friend. In fact, we were schoolfellows, had the same pleasures, and shared the same sorrows; and I might say, as Milton did of Lawes, in that charming Lycidas,
“For we were nurs'd upon the self-same hill,
Fed the same flock by fountain, shade, and rill.'' He then pointed out to me all the rich and expressive features of the portrait, which, in truth, exhibited, as he had intimated, in mien and countenance, one of the most perfect gentlemen I had ever seen ;