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terrific person but a coarse gourmand (such as Granville had described him), in his practical demonstration of the excellence of the turbot and turtle. Upon this he complimented my lord, as indeed he did upon every thing every minute; not forgetting, amid a thousand private merits, the wisdom of his public measures, upon which he actually seemed disposed to pronounce a panegyric in form, for the edification of the company, had not Lord Castleton repressed it with disgust, though equivocally conveyed, by saying, in a tone which might by any one else have been taken for irony, that he never ventured to intrude such common-place business as politics upon men of genius and imagination.
This produced a complacent bow from the censor, who took it as a compliment, and after this instance of his tact, allowed the conversation to become general.
I thought, at first, that he felt a little subdued by the class of company in which he now, for the first time, found himself; but was soon undeceived, for he rallied into a sort of collision with Lord Grandison, a nobleman of a certain age, and high breeding, made still more dignified by great gravity
This lord was lamenting to Lord Castleton the death, that day, of a common friend of theirs, which he said had occasioned great grief to his nieces, the Ladies Devenish.
“ Yes,” said Paragraph, pertly, though not addressed by Lord Grandison, “and we may be certain their grief is genuine, for there is a new opera to-morrow, which they will not be able to attend.”
“ You, of course, know these ladies ?” observed Lord Grandison in a dry tone, and with a look of distant dignity, yet of surprise, which might have repelled a less bold person than the gallant Paragraph.
“ Not I,” said he, with great affectation of indifference; “only there is a new opera to-morrow, and I thought their grief would therefore be but natural.”
“ Human nature is very much obliged to you," replied Lord Grandison, with still greater gravity ; “ but let me advise you, Sir, when next you make an offensive observation among strangers, to be more acquainted with the subject of it than you seem to be here. I have known the Ladies Devenish from their cradles, and I must be allowed to tell you their characters will by no means justify the wit you have thrown away upon them.”
This rebuke had so far effect, that the critic felt uneasy, and looked round among the company for protection,—which, not finding, he absolutely seemed disconcerted, and stammered out something like an excuse; which Lord Grandison seeming to accept, by an inclination of his head, the fellow
instantly recovered his familiarity, and said, flippantly,
“ I trust your lordship will not bear malice, and, in proof of it, will let us take a glass of wine together.”
Lord Grandison immediately poured out some wine, and interchanging smiles with Lord Castleton, of indescribable contempt, but which ought to have sunk our censor to the earth, coolly drank off his glass.
A rather awkward pause ensued, and Paragraph was again silent for several minutes, but revived on Granville's mentioning a young author who had just published a poem, but which he was modest enough to say himself he was afraid would not be read. Paragraph, here feeling in his element, exclaimed, may
be much more afraid if it is." “ You have read the poem, then ?” said Lord Castleton.
“ No," cried he, “ but I have reviewed it. Ha,
“ What astonishing talents you gentlemen of the press must have,” observed Lord Castleton. “ Intuition itself is nothing to you. No wonder poor authors and ministers are so kept in order by you."
Paragraph again bowed; but looking round, and finding, by a sort of smile, that the company took
the thing differently from himself, he actually shewed symptoms of distress.
As for me, in my simplicity, I wondered at a state of society which could seem to admit such a person to its honours.
Granville told me afterwards he doubted the fact, that he had reviewed a book without reading, or at least looking at it; but though it compromised his integrity, the assertion sounded epigrammatic, and among his literary dependents would have certainly been thought witty.
Paragraph's non-success here delivered us again from him for a few minutes more, and he seemed under some constraint, on the conversation becoming general, and nobody speaking to him; for even Lord Castleton, with all his politeness, had now neglected him. Rallying, however, and addressing Granville, he observed,
“ I saw you last night at the great Lady Hungerford's assembly.”
Yes,” replied Granville, who seldom spared him, “ and I wondered how the devil you got there."
“O!” returned he, “ leave me alone for getting any
where I like. But, upon my word,” added he, in an authoritative tone, “ considering Lady Hungerford's reputation, I was sadly disappointed.” “ How so ?” asked Lord Castleton, with curiosity.
Why, I own,” replied Paragraph, “it was far
from the genteel thing I expected. The rooms and the music were well enough, but the company, with a few exceptions, were absolute quizzes. There is indeed an article in this morning's World, * wondering whether money was taken at the door for shewing them.”
• Written by yourself, no doubt,” said Granville.
“ That's neither here nor there," answered the director of public taste ; looking, however, very conscious.
“ You do my niece a great deal of honour,” said Lord Castleton, with a bow of ambiguity.
6 Your niece, my lord ! Good heavens! Lady Hungerford your niece! What a mistake. Upon my soul I did not intend it, indeed could not have known it. I am sure your lordship
that is, I beg pardon ; I assure you it shall all be set to rights immediately."
“ Not the least harm's done," said Lord Castleton, with great composure; " and Lady Hungerford is so benevolent, that if to abuse her and her parties every day will do you or your paper any good, or raise your reputation as the director of public opinion, and above all, of public taste, I will answer for it she will give you carte blanche ; so make yourself easy."
* Then the most fashionable morning paper.