Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

warmer feeling inspired it—a feeling that was not divided with others, but glowed in the gentlest of female bosoms for himself alone. Who could find it in his heart to dislodge this cherished idea —to refute this hallowed creed of his imagination ? But despondence, and even despair, had also their turns; moments came upon him when he felt that, however agonizing it was to doubt, it was folly to hope; and he would sit whole hours, benighted in the soul's gloom, brooding over the sad accidents of sickness, neglect, obscurity, and indigence, that had so cruelly darkened his prospects, and crossed his early and his latest aspirations. Disease, therefore, upon feelings thus attuned, and a frame so enervated, made but short work of it. I must not forget to mention that the vision of Leftley's heart and fancy was his friend Linley's sister ; a miniature resemblance of Mrs. Sheridan, endued with many of her graces, and, in musical accomplishments, scarcely inferior to that highly-gifted woman. This lady afterwards made a matter-of-fact match of it with a most unpoetical personage, a Mr. Ward; but she soon followed, and almost as

poor friend's

prematurely, the early fate of the female branch of her family. Linley collected, with a pious care for his

friend's memory, his scattered poetical frag. ments, and published them in a volume, to which he prefixed a short biographical notice. But he did not shine as an editor, having inserted in the book as many of his own pieces as of Leftley's; or as a wag, who was mentioning the circumstance at the Beef-Steaks, expressed it," he had packed up his own clothes in his friend's portmanteau.” But Will, as a biographer, laid himself quite prostrate to the attacks of the Club; for in that little composition, not a few of those solecisms had escaped him, to which unpractised writers are always liable, and these were carefully picked up by some facetious critic for a little mirth at his expense. The luckless sentences which this merciless censor hauled into notice ran thus: “ Charles Leftley was the eldest son of his father;"- -a truth, for the correctness of which, Linley warmly pledged himself. The same playful persecutor of Bill's authorship found also, or pretended to find (for the rogue read it all from the book) the following Johnsonian passage respecting Leftley's birth :-“ His father was a traitor, and his mother a sempstress; an union, which, if not first suggested, was probably accelerated by the mutual sympathies of a congenial occupation.” This pompous sentence excited considerable mirth, and the sober truism contained in the following passage, produced a still greater sensation. " It is a well-known fact that novelty itself, by frequent repetition, loses much of its attraction."

This, however, was nothing to the amusement furnished by a novel in three volumes, which poor Linley had been ill-advised enough to publish, and for which Sir Richard Phillips gave him the immense honorarium of thirty pounds. It was called Ralph Reybridge. The schooling he received at the Beef-Steaks for this production had a inost salutary effect; for I am persuaded that otherwise he would have brought out a whole

of novels. But Will, when the agony of wounded authorship was over, used to exclaim to his tormentors

progeny of novels.

This is no flattery; these are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.

The admonition, though useful, was severely administered. For the same Zoïlus brought a volume of the work in his pocket, and read a passage of it aloud. This was an ungentle, and almost unkind, discipline. Linley, poor soul, in the innocence of his character, imagined that he could paint the world; he, to whom it was all a terra incognita ; he, to whom the wiles and tortuous labyrinths of man's heart were as familiar as to the infant who has just peeped into it! It could not, therefore, be supposed that a mind so untutored in human life, should produce interesting and engaging portraitures of it; and certain it is, that when the production made its appearance, it was found to consist of those threadbare occurrences, and common-place sentiments, a specimen of which, the merciless wight who brought the book, read to the Club as follows. It describes a peregrination of the hero, and forms part of a chapter entitled

THE RECOGNITION.

“Our hero, who had now walked eighteen miles, arrived, hungry and exhausted, at a neat-looking

inn. Much as his thoughts were engrossed by the idea of his charming Amelia, and though the tenderness of the parting scene still occupied his memory, yet exercise and fatigue produced their usual effects on a constitution naturally robust, and he was visited with the cravings of a violent appetite. As he approached the larder, his eyes sent forth a glance of eager inquiry as to its contents, and he asked the landlady, in a tone of impatience, what she had for his supper. The landlady, a fat buxom widow of forty, with a complacent smile, in which pity for the young pedestrian (for she read upon his countenance that some secret sorrow was preying on his heart) had a considerable share, gave the usual reply, ‘Beef-steaks, mutton chops, and veal cutlets.' The contrariety of temptations acting with nearly equal force, at first perplexed our hero; but his choice was soon determined by the inviting appearance of the veal cutlet, and a piece of cold bacon, its natural ally, that lay beside it.

The repast was soon served up to him, with a pint of tolerable Port, which would have reconciled him to homelier fare than that before him ;

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »