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But was he less great, (be witness, oh ye powers of equanimity, that supported in the ruins of Carthage the consular exile, and more recently transmuted for a more illustrious exile the barren constableship of Elba into an image of imperial France,) when, in melancholy after-years, again, much near the same spot, I met him, when that sceptre had been wrested from his hand, and his dominion was curtailed to the petty managership, and part proprietorship, of the small Olympic, his Elba? He still played nightly upon the boards of Drury, but in parts, alas! allotted to him, noi magnificently distributed by him. Waiving his great loss as nothing, and magnificently sinking the sense of fallen material grandeur in the more liberal resentment of depreciations done to his more lofty intellectual pretensions, “ Have you heard”—his customary exordium,“ have you heard,” said he, “how they treat me ? they put me in comedy.” Thought I– but his finger on his lips forbade any verbal interruption—“Where could they have put you better ?” Then, after a pause—“Where I formerly played Romeo, I now play Mercutio,"—and so again he stalked away, neither staying nor caring for responses.
Oh, it was a rich scene--but Sir A- C, the best of story-tellers and surgeons, who mends a lame narrative almost as well as he sets a fracture, alone could do justice to it—that I was witness to, in the tarnished room (that had once been green) of that same little Olympic. There, after his deposition from imperial Drury, he substituted a throne. That Olympic Hill was his “highest heaven;" himself “ Jove in his chair.” There he sat in state, while before him, on complaint of prompter, was brought for judgment—how shall I describe her?-one of those little tawdry things that flirt at the tails of choruses—a probationer for the town, in either of its senses—the pertest little drab—a dirty fringe and appendage of the lamps' smoke-who, it seems, on some disapprobation expressed by a “highly respectable” audience -had precipitately quitted her station on the boards and withdrawn her small talents in disgust.
6 And how dare you,” said her manager-assuming a censorial severity which would have crushed the confidence of a Vestris, and disarmed that beautiful rebel herself of her professional caprices—I verily believe, he thought her standing before him—.“ how dare you, madam, withdraw yourself, without a notice, from your theatrical duties?”—“I was hissed, sir." -“ And you have the presumption to decide upon the taste of the town ?”—“I don't know that, sir; but I will never stand to be hissed,” was the subjoinder of young Confidence-when, gathering up his features into one
significant mass of wonder, pity, and expostulatory indignation -in a lesson never to have been lost upon a creature less forward than she who stood before him-his words were these : “ They have hissed me.”
"I was the identical argument à fortiori, which the son of Peleus uses to Lycaon trembling under his lance, to persuade him to take his destiny with a good grace. “I too am mortal.” And it is to be believed that in both cases the rhetoric missed of its application for want of a proper understanding with the faculties of the respective recipients.
“Quite-an opera pit,” he said to me, as he was courteously conducting me over the benches of his Surrey Theatre, the last retreat and recess of his every-day waning grandeur.
Those who knew Elliston will know the manner in which he pronounced the latter sentence of the few words I am about to record. One proud day to me he took his roast mutton with us in the Temple, to which I had superadded a preliminary haddock. After a rather plentiful partaking of the meager banquet, not unrefreshed with the humbler sort of liquors, I made a sort of apology for the humility of the fare, observing that for my own part I never ate but one dish at dinner. ;" I too never eat but one thing at dinner," was his reply—then, after a pause-"reckoning fish as nothing.” The manner was all. It was as if by one peremptory sentence he had decreed the annihilation of all the savoury esculents, which the pleasant and nutritious-food-giving ocean pours forth upon poor humans from her watery bosom. This was greatness, tempered with considerate tenderness to the feelings of his scanty but welcoming entertainer.
Great wert thou in thy life, Robert William Elliston ! and not lessened in thy death, if report speak truly, which says that thou didst direct that thy mortal remains should repose under no inscription but one of pure Latinity. Classical was thy bringing up! and beautiful was the feeling on thy last bed, which, connecting the man with the boy, took thee back in thy latest exercise of imagination to the days when, undreaming of theatres and managerships, thou wert a scholar, and an early ripe one, under the roofs builded by the munificent and pious Colet. For thee the Pauline muses weep. In elegies that shall silence this crude prose they shall celebrate thy praise.
DETACHED THOUGHTS ON BOOKS AND
“ To mind the inside of a book is to entertain one's self with the forced product of another man's brain. Now I think a man of quality and breeding may be much amused with the natural sprouts of his own.
Lord Foppington in the Relapse.
An ingenious acquaintance of my own was so much struck with this bright sally of his lordship, that he has left off reading altogether, to the great improvement of his originality. At the hazard of losing some credit on his head, I must confess that I dedicate no inconsiderable portion of my time to other people's thoughts. I dream away my life in others' speculations. I love to lose myself in other men's minds. When I am not walking I am reading; I cannot sit and think. Books think for me.
I have no repugnances. Shaftesbury is not too genteel for me, nor Jonathan Wild too low. I can read anything which I call a book. There are things in that shape which I cannot allow for such.
In this catalogue of books which are no books-biblia a-biblia - I reckon court calendars, directories, pocket-books, draughtboards, bound and lettered at the back, scientific treatises, almanacs, statutes at large : the works of Hume, Gibbon, Robertson, Beattie, Soame Jenyns, and, generally, all those volumes which 66 no gentleman's library should be without :” the Histories of Flavius Josephus, (that learned Jew,) and Paley's Moral Philosophy. With these exceptions, I can read almost anything. I bless my stars for a taste so catholic, so unexcluding.
I confess that it moves my spleen to see these things in oooks' clothing perched upon shelves, like false saints, usurpers of true shrines, intruders into the sanctuary, thrusting out the legitimate occupants. To reach down a well-bound semblance of a volume, and hope it some kind-hearted playbook, then, opening what
seem its leaves," to come bolt upon a withering population essay. To expect a Steele or a Farquhar, and find – Adam Smith. To view a well-arranged assortment of blockheaded Encyclopædias (Anglicanas or Metropolitanas) set out in an array of Russia or Morocco, when a tithe of that good leather would comfortably reclothe my shivering folios ; would renovate Paracelsus himself, and enable old Raymund
Lully to look like himself again in the world. I never see these impostors, but I long to strip them to warm my ragged veterans in their spoils.
To be strong-backed and neat-bound is the desideratum of a volume. Magnificence comes after. This, when it can be afforded, is not to be lavished upon all kinds of books indiscriminately. I would not dress a set of magazines, for instance, in full suit. The dishabille, or half-binding, (with Russia backs ever,) is our costume. A Shakspeare, or a Milton, (unless the first editions,) it were mere foppery to trick out in gay apparel. The possession of them confers no distinction. The exterior of them, (the things themselves being so common,) strange to say, raises no sweet emotions, no tickling sense of property in the owner. Thomson's Seasons, again, looks best (I maintain it) a little torn and dog's-eared. How beautiful to a genuine lover of reading are the sullied leaves and worn-out appearance, nay, the very odour, (beyond Russia,) if we would not forget kind feelings in fastidiousness, of an old “ Circulating Library” Tom Jones or Vicar of Wakefield! How they speak of the thousand thumbs that have turned over their pages with delight !-of the lone seamstress whom they may have cheered (milliner, or harder-working mantuamaker) after her long day's needle-toil, running far into midnight, when she has snatched an hour, ill spared from sleep, to steep her cares, as in some Lethean cup, in spelling out their enchanting contents ! Who would have thern a whit less soiled ? What better condition could we desire to see them in ?
In some respects, the better a book is, the less it demands from binding. Fielding, Smollet, Sterne, and all that class of perpetually self-reproductive volumes-great Nature's stereotypes—we see them individually perish with less regret, because we know the copies of them to be “ eterne.” But where a book is at once both good and rare- - where the indi. vidual is almost the species, and when that perishes,
“We know not where is that Promethean torch
That can its light relumine"
such a book, for instance, as the Life of the Duke of Newcastle, by his dutchess-no casket is rich enough, no casing sufficiently durable, to honour and keep safe such a jewel.
Not only rare volumes of this description, which seem hopeless ever to be reprinted, but old editions of writers, such as Sir Philip Sidney, Bishop Taylor, Mil:on in his prose-works, Fuller-of whom we have reprints, yet the books themselves, though they go about, and are talked of here and
there, we know, have not endenizened themselves (nor possibly ever will) in the national heart, so as to become stock books—it is good to possess these in durable and costly cov
I do not care for a first folio of Shakspeare. I rather prefer the common editions of Rowe and Tonson, without notes, and with plates, which, being so execrably bad, serve as maps or modest remembrancers to the text ; and without pretending to any supposable emulation with it, are so much better than the Shakspeare gallery engravings, which did. I have a community of feeling with my countrymen about his plays, and I like those editions of him best which have been oftenest tumbled about and handled. On the contrary, I can. not read Beaumont and Fletcher but in folio. The octavo editions are painful to look at. I have no sympathy with them. If they were as much read as the current editions of the other poet, I should prefer them in that shape to the older
I do not know a more heartless sight than the reprint of the Anatomy of Melancholy. What need was there of unearthing the bones of that fantastic old great man to expose them in a winding-sheet of the newest fashion to modern censure? what hapless stationer could dream of Burton's ever becoming popular? The wretched Malone could not do worse, when he bribed the sexton of Stratford church to let him whitewash the painted effigy of old Shakspeare, which stood there, in rude but lively fashion depicted, to the very colour of the cheek, the eye, the eyebrow, hair, the very dress he used to wear—the only authentic testimony we had, however imperfect, of these curious parts and parcels of him. They covered him over with a coat of white paint. By —, if I had been a justice of peace for Warwickshire, I would have clapped both commentator and sexton fast in the stocks, for a pair of meddling sacrilegious varlets.
I think I see them at their work—these sapient troubletombs.
Shall I be thought fantastical if I confess that the names of some of our poets sound sweeter, and have a finer relish to the ear-to mine, at least—than that of Milton or of Shak, speare? It may be that the latter are more staled and rung upon in common discourse. The sweetest names, and which carry a perfume in the mention, are Kit Marlowe, Drayton, Drummond of Hawthornden, and Cowley.
Much depends upon when and where you read a book. In the five or six impatient minutes before the dinner is quite ready, who would think of taking up the Fairy Queen for a stop-gap, or a volume of Bishop Andrewes' sermons ?
Milton almost requires a solemn service of music to be