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As considerable mirth ensued upon this, Paragraph did not know how to take it ; nor whether it emanated from great good-nature, or great contempt. For the first he bowed; from fear of the last, he reddened; and at length, receiving no relief, applied to Granville for help, exclaiming,
My dear Granville, I am sure you will answer for it, that I could not mean the least disrespect to his lordship or Lady Hungerford, only-I really don't know how to apologize
but, God bless my soul, how late it is."
And (the pendule just then striking eleven) he rushed out of the room, his ears regaled all the way through the hall, by the hearty laughs of those he left behind.
“I trust," said Lord Grandison, “ the lesson this poor man has received will do him good.”
6 I doubt it," observed Lord Castleton, “ from Granville's account of him; for to Granville we owe the honour he has done us to-day."
6 Wait till his next paper comes out,” said Granville, “ before we pronounce."
The paper did come out, with a long leading article on the miserable state of English society, from the unbearable insolence of the aristocracy, particularly of those in office, and the total want of taste, elegance, and manners, in the ladies who pretend to call themselves women of fashion.
When we broke up, I said to Granville, who took me home,
“ How I envy you men of the town your opportunities for knowledge. Here, in my innocence, I have been for years thinking a newspaper critic a sort of a literary god, or at least a sage and profound judge, whom all the world are bound to reverence. Can this be a specimen of them ? "
“Certainly not,” said Granville ; “for you see he is of an inferior class, who make up in impudence what they want in sense, and he shewed himself off accordingly, as an ass in fine trappings. There are, luckily, many totally opposite to him-real scholars, and real gentlemen, whom it is both pleasure and advantage to know, and whose manners are far different from those of this slimy caterpillar, who bedaubs every thing he crawls over. There are, however, too many like him in the lower classes of the press, and to study the character of one of these critics of what we call the shop, would give you both amusement and useful knowledge.”
“I have heard something of it from Mr. Manners, and have been shocked with it," returned I. “ I should be glad, however, to be instructed in what seems such a mystery.”
“ Possibly I may help you," said Granville, “ by
introducing you to an old fellow-gownsman of mine, with whom I was at Trinity, before I was of All Souls, and who called upon me the other day. His profession has been that of a critic for these last ten years; but I fear he is much the worse for
He can, however, tell much of the prisonhouse if he pleases.”
" I should like to know him," said I.
I HAVE A DISCOURSE WITH GRANVILLE ON THE
SYSTEM OF TRADING CRITICISM. PICTURE OF
A DISTRESSED MAN OF LETTERS.
What would'st write of me, if thou should'st praise me?
Oh, gentle lady, do not put me to't, for I am nothing if not critical.
SHAKSPEARE. -Othello. The next day, eager to solve some of the difficulties as to his craft, occasioned by the meeting with Paragraph, I called upon Granville to renew the subject, and to ask him to introduce me to the friend who, he thought, could so enlighten me. He himself, however, had powers and experience to do so, without aid, as will presently be seen.
As to the introduction, he said he was very willing to effect it, if I would make such a journey as to Fleet-street; but that his friend lived in such a hole, he feared I should not like it.
Upon inspecting his address, it proved to be Wine Office Court, Fleet-street.
“ Come," said I,“if the great Johnson did not disdain such a neighbourhood, and if the amiable, elegant Goldsmith lived in Fleet-market itself, do not let us be too nice in visiting a man of merit, only because he is lodged like them.”
It was settled, therefore, that we should proceed to Wine Office Court; but first, by way of
proper introduction, Granville said he would tell me something of his friend's history.
His name was Graves. He had been educated and distinguished as a classic at Rugby. His father, a country apothecary, could have well provided for him in his own line, but he would not relinquish Homer for Galen ; in short, he hated the shop; so he came to Trinity College with a prodigious quantity of Greek and Latin, and total ignorance of the world. Here he was treated as a quiz, as he almost deserved, in every thing but books; yet so mild and unoffending was he, that nobody could use him ill, and the tutors and fellows all gave him respect for his scholarship. In particular, one of the fellows, the famous wit, poet, and punster of the University, the Rev. T. W. took him by the hand; so that, when his father died, which he did just after he had taken his degree, leaving scarcely bread to his mother, and none at all to himself, Mr. W interested himself about his provision, and, as the college prospects were closed upon him from not being on the foun