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“ True," said I, “and I am anxious to know how he succeeded finally with Mr. Spleenwort.”
Why, he had no success at all ; for, under all his meekness and simplicity, his pride would not permit him to dance attendance a single moment longer on Sir Oracle. But the alternative was unfortunate for this neglected son of literature ; for it produced so much distress to his mind, from the affronts he was forced to sustain, and to his body, from its depriving him even of sustenance, that he applied to me to obtain a clerkship in a public office. Yet so modest is his character, and so few his wants, that when not actually without a dinner, he is not unhappy, as long as he can loiter at what he calls his home, in his dressing-gown, unbuttoned and ungartered, with his book and his inkstand.”
This colloquy over, we proceeded to Wine Office Court, which we entered through a low and dirty passage, and beheld a gloom, and felt a closeness which formed a lamentable contrast to the light and cheerful airiness of the quarter we had left.
The court was none of the cleanest, and the house we entered, where Mr. Graves was a lodger up two pair of stairs, was certainly not wanting in the obsoleti sordibus tecti. The door, a pannel of which was split, was opened by the landlady, whose appearance, however, did not prove that either air
or water was absolutely necessary to make a person rubicund and fat.
Upon our asking whether Mr. Graves was at home, “ There,” said she (pointing up a crazy staircase)," you will find him as high as you can go."
I blessed myself, when I recollected what I had once thought of as a pleasant profession, and how forcibly Manners put it to flight by a picture which here seemed about to be realized.
On ascending to the second story, we knocked at a door, which had certainly once been painted. The answer, “Come in,” brought us to the sanctum of our man of letters.
He was, as Granville had described him, in his state of happiness-that is, in a loose dressinggown, seemingly unacquainted with any laundress, leaning back in an arm-chair, so rickety, that it made us tremble for his safety. His legs were stretched aloft over a table, on which were several books, and also a plate, with the beaux restes of some bread and cheese, an empty egg-shell, and as empty a porter pot.
Poor Graves started up dismayed, and full of blushes, at being thus surprised.
“I never thought, or expected, or hoped," said he to Granville, stammering, “ that you would take the trouble of coming so far to return my visit, and I only left my address in case you should have occasion to write to me."
Then looking at me inquiringly, I was introduced to him as Lord Castleton's secretary, which brought an evident blush into his cheek, particularly when Granville added, I was his good friend, and he had communicated his views to me.
This, I believe, made the good gentleman (happily for himself, of a sanguine temper) think the thing was done; for he became on the alert, begged us to sit down, and would have offered us chairs if he had had them.
There was indeed a window-seat; but as that also formed a locker for coals, which lay in scattered fragments on the cover, it could not be used. After a little conversation, which, therefore, took place standing, Granville told him that he wondered, with his attainments, that a poor clerkship would content him.
“ You will be a mere piece of mechanism,” said Granville; “ a slave."
“ I am both already,” replied Graves, with a sigh; "and my servitude, being of the mind as well as the fingers, is far worse than the same quilldriving would be with the will free. Take the last specimen of what I am.”
At this, opening his table-drawer, he pulled out a letter from the editor of one of the weekly papers who employed him, and which ran thus:
“ Mr. Graves, I am sorry to say that you have again transgressed the line to which I have
You have praised instead of condemned a work, so highly ministerial, and, what is worse, so able, that, if this goes on, my paper will be ruined. If you choose to set up for yourself, well and good ; but in that case, I have no farther occasion for your services.
“ I am your humble servant,
66 SIMON SOURKROUT."
“ Affronting enough,” said Granville. had he then confined you to a particular line, and did you go from your agreement ?”
“Quite the contrary," said Graves; “ for I would not be bound, and the consequence was, that as I was paid by the piece for the works he should send, knowing my turn, he seldom sent me any; and you may therefore judge of the insolence of such a note."
“ God keep me from such petty tyrants !". cried Granville ; " and you, my friend, from such thraldom. We must try what can be done for you."
At this we took our leave, and I left him with a melancholy feeling that such things could be, from which I did not recover during all the way back to Granville's lodgings.
When there, I broke out into a long jeremiad, that such miseries (which till now I had never witnessed) could be allowed to belong to the republic of letters.
“ You have miscalled it republic," said Granpersons of
ville; “ at least if a republic mean an assemblage of freemen ;-for never was such a set of tyrants as some of these self-installed usurpers; who, if indeed a republic, claim to be the perpetual dictators of it.”
“ You describe, however," said I, “ very superior powers, and who, I suppose, are unrivalled for taste, and irresistible in their judge ments; acquainted with all ancient and modern lore; versed in all sciences, and all arts."
“ The arts of humbug and the science of abuse, if you will,” replied Granville, “but no other. Recollect, however, I speak but of some editors, and not at all of those distinguished persons, both in station and knowledge, who lend criticism their able assistance; themselves (many of them) approved authors in prose and verse, poets, historians, and divines.”
“ You allow, then," said I, “ that there are, as there ought to be, judges in literature, as there are in law ?"
Undoubtedly,” replied Granville ; " it is good for authors themselves, as well as for literature, that their faults should be pointed out.
But as the judge in law pronounces sentence with dignity, and can never be personal without lowering his character, so the judge of authors can never call names without forfeiting his judicial function. He