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But a still severer task was then imposed upon eve-
ry instructor of the public ; all were expected to bring
positive credentials of science or talent ; and as the
intervals of writing was expected to be devoted to
thinking and reading. I protest our condition seems
improved by our emancipation from this harsh law. —
We are now only required to fill a certain number of
sheets for each migration of fashion ; that is, for the
world coming up to London, or for the world's going
down to the summer bathing places ; for the former,
something that may be read in a hurry for the first
season, and for the latter, something that will keep
them awake under the soporific influence of driving
over the same sands or lounging at the same booksel-
lers'. If we succeed in this latter, our business is
complete.



THE REFUSAL. 143

The astonishing enlargement of the human capacity
whidi we old Grecians in literature have lived to be-
hold, proves the vast utility of this perpetual succes-
sion of novelties. Formerly, no one ventured to talk
of a book on which they had not deeply pondered,
now, though every body sets up for an universal judge
as well as reader, few do more than skim the cream of
every production, which, thanks to the perspicuity of
the writer and printer, may be done as rapidly as we
cut the leaves. A friend of mine, who has the cha-
racter of a hard student, and writes the literary de-
partment of a magazine, limits herself to the perusal
of six volumes a morning, which she gets through with
such ease, that she assures me she could cut up as
many more only she is afraid of injuring her eyes. —
She misses very little except the natural philosophy and
morality, which she says is always of the same sort.
Considering the rate at which she travels, I must do
her the justice to say she is extremely fortunate in her
guesses, rarely misunderstanding her author so much
but that, when you read her criticism, you will find as
near a resemblance as between some eminent public
characters and their caricatures in a print shop, which
I admit to be a sufficient likeness.

Unless, therefore, we belong to that enviable class
of our community who write books of riddles, analyse
popular games, or compose songs for new music, we
must never presume to answer the continual demand
for something new by requesting the world to pick out
a few morsels from among the undigested fragments of
our last regale. The insult would be as gross as to
place hashed mutton and broiled drumsticks before a
gourmand, or to present a rural belle with a last year's
turban. Without adverting to hard times and heavy
taxes, or descending to the trite inapplicable jests of
Tuinger and poverty (so ill suited to the present race
of writers, who shew by their works that they con-
verse with no one below the rank of a baronet, and are
versed in all the nice arcana of polite life) this voraci-
ous appetite in readers binds us, who cater and cook
N 2



144 riIE REFUSAL.

for the public, like Ixion, to a never-resting wheel ,
and as we are absolutely forbidden to stand still, I
trust we may have permission to plead the infirmity of
our nature, and be allowed to publish our dreams. —
Nay, we hope the frequency of our naps will rather
be ascribed to our extreme avidity to gratify our read-
ers, than to indifference to their approbation.

Having thus asserted the right, by proving the ne-
cessity, of an author's dozing, I might enlarge upon
the various advantages resulting from that practice,
but shall confine myself to one, which is in such high
estimation as to swallow up ail others, I mean expedi-
tion. I do not refer to the inconceivable celerity of
thought and imagination when we are actually enjoy-
ing bodily repose ; the benefit I allude to results from
a total absence of those faculties, and simply means
the mechanical velocity with which the pen is known
to move when the writer is entirely disburthened of
ideas, and unrestrained by judgment ; and the rapi-
dity with which a reader gets through a book after he
has discovered that the author really has no .meaning.
Under these circumstances, it may be hoped that we
shall yet see a thicker harvest of literature. A fine
gentleman might compose a farce without injuring his
constitution, and a lady of fashion write a sonnet with-
out bringing on a nervous fever ; and as gaping in
company is known to be infectious, may we not hope
that works composed under a soporific influence will
reunite the two-fold attributes anciendy ascribed to
Apollo, and induce physicians, instead of proscribing
study to recommend it as one of their infallible narco-
tics, so that hereafter we may hear of two pages of
poetry and three of prose being ordered as a night
draught instead of paregoric or laudanum ? What
infinite advantages will not the public derive from hav-
ing mischievous activity thus innocently employed,
and how much must parents and masters rejoice at
seeing a choice spirit or a bel esprit thus charmed into
quietness? What a golden aerA too will this be for
myself and all the humbler votories of the muse, when,



THE REFUSAL. 145

besides the public being compelled to take our works,
certain gentlemen who have lately made much noise
in the world will absolutely be ruined. For let people
say what they please about their verses, 'tis certain,
like Macbeth, " they murder the innocent sleep," and,
however distilled or disguised, can never be used as
lullabies.

I might here say something respecting the antiquity
of the practice of literaiy dozing, and prove, that in
those venerable remains which have descended to us
uninjured by the lapse of ages, we may discover in-
dubitable proofs, that the poppy was always permitted
to hold a place in the garland of bays. But it is not very
prudent for us moderns to put our readers in mind of
the ancients, who seem to have been an austere race of
people, and if ever they indulged in a little drowsiness
it was only, like the halt of a race-horse, that they
might recover their breath and rouse their faculties to
more vigorous exertion. I do not advise my contem-
poraries to nod like Homer, who wakens with his own
Jupiter, and lays about him in such a manner as to
harrow the nerves of his readers ; nor would I have
them dream with Livy, who puts so much of the ter-
rible into his visions, that one is as much agitated by
them as by waking truths. When people read to gain
information, or to lighten the toils of business, these
stimuli were necessary, but now, since we only want a
book to kill time, to fill up the pauses of dissipation,
or (if it be a work of repute,) to say we have read it,
every thing which impedes despatch, or fixes atten-
tion, should be avoided. We should therefore manage
the transitions from sleeping to waking with such per-
fect equanimity of style, and glide from dreaming to
prosing with such quiet movements, that we may never
disturb the repose of our readers, nor afford them a
criterion to judge of the duration of our own.

I am aware I give the critics great advantage by my
ingenuousness, and I anticipate a thousand such trite
witticisms as that, my works are written to exemplify
and my rules fabricated to put off my works. I will



146 TIIE REFUSAL

allow them to say, " poor old Mrs. Prudentia confesses
she has fallen into a lethargy," and that a they heartily
wish her a long good-night." I only beg to assure
them, that my partiality for my own productions has
not made me unjust to their lucubrations, and that I
should not have dared to recommend somnolency to
authors had I not detected their worships nodding upon
the bench, and not only passiflg sentence when they
knew not what they were about, but actually continu-
ing in such a profound trance, that all the remonstrances
of an infuriated author clamouring for justice could
not dissolve it, nor restore them to such a limited use
of their faculties as to say why they put words into his
mouth which he did not utter, or drew conclusions
from his arguments which he pointedly disavowed. I
know the enemies of these disciples of Zoilus say, that,
like morose husbands when they feign themselves
asleep, they are only suiky ; but as I am a staunch ad-
vocate for these gentlemen, in gratitude for their mark-
ed liberality to me, I must insist, that it is impossible
to analyze modern literatm'e in the gross without re-
ceiving as much injury from its soporific effluvia as
chymists do from preparing opium. Besides this, a
reviewer is subject to many indigenous diseases pecu-
liar to the soil on which he is bred, especially that la-
mentable complaint, a party fever, which is not only ac-
companied with an inversion of the optic nerves, unac-
countable nauseas, frantic, delirious incoherent ravings,
and other dreadful symptoms, aggravated by total in-
sensibility to his own situation, but often ends in a
coma or morbid sleepiness which no admonitions, hu-
man or divine, nor even the crush of nature and the
fall of worlds, could terminate. Now, as writing is
found to have the same effect upon this disorder as
copious perspiration has upon most febrile cases, and
as the unhappy sufferers can continue to use their pens
to the last stage of the disease, and even find some re-
lief to their sufferings by recording their delirious con-
jectures, I think we ought to look with more compas-
sion than indignation on those lucubrations which tend



THE REFUSAL. 147

to shew the advantages of despotism, and the honour
and generosity of Napoleon : which teach us that the
best wav of acquiring habits of laborious research and
dispassionate investigation is to devote our time to dis-
sipation, and instruct us to submit our minds to pre-
judice till we discover that kindness to our adulterous
connections is sublime virtue, and that he is the most
rational of all philosophers who endeavours to weaken
the faith of others without having allowed himself
time to examine the evidences of the religion he la-
bours to subvert. Such decisions require pity rather
than argument, and surely I may hope for an eulogium
on my candour when I declare, that they must have
been uttered while the reviewer was light-headed, or
labouring under the insensibility of party fever, which,
whether it rage against church or state, public charac-
ters, or private individuals, is a calamity truly tremen-
dous and stupifying.

I have now only to state in what part of their work
authors may most advantageously indulge in repose.
The commencement is not adviseable, because there
they ought to appear smart upon the principle of the
old adage concerning the efficacy of new brooms j and
I strongly adjure them, if they would escape the im-
mediate ravage of the trunk-maker, to be wide awake
when they draw up their title page, especially if they
belong to the class of novel writers. Who, for in-
stance, would select for the companion of their after-
noon siesta, " a Winter in Wisbeach Fen," " Adven-
tures in Dunstable," or " Characters from White-
chapel ?" Let them also continue to rub their eyes
till they have named all their principal characters, and
fixed their residences ; for as no one can care about
Miss Molly Muggleton of the Minories, or Peter Per-
kins of Pimlico, so there is some inconvenience in per-
petually recurring to the Harlowes, Byrons, Delvilles,
and other classical families, as it may produce compa-
risons, which are truly odious. After the title and the
names are happily chosen, and expectation excited by



148 THE REFUSAL.

a promise of some bustle and some scandal, the author
may compose herself, and trust to the works of her
contemporaries for incidents and characters, which,
with a little neat patch-work and a few slight sketches
of embroidery, will never be found out. This recipe
for making a novel will always answer, and an old dish
tossed up with new sauce will furnish collops and ra-
gouts for successive entertainments.

'Tis true, there are times when both author and
reader must be somewhat on the alert. I do not mean
at the catastrophe ; we know by the first four pages
whether the heroine is to die or to be married, and no
other conclusion is admissible, because one of these
events always happens to beautiful young women. But
when we gratify malevolence and excite curiosity by
some strong touches of personality, it is proper to ex-
ercise consideration sufficient to preserve a striking
likeness, and to avoid running into the net of justice.

For though a prosecution for slander gives eclat, it
is now so trodden a path to renown, that libelling is
thought to be an unprofitable and consequently declin-
ing trade. I would therefore advise my kindred of the
quill, when they would traffic with the cant phrase of
some celebrated wit, describe the shrug of a well
known fine gentleman, or remodel the irregularities of
a popular duchess, to be a little careful not to strew
thehr vices and follies too thickly. And if, for the sake
of effect, they find that they must make the wit a swin-
dler, the fine gentleman a coward, and the great lady a
courtezan, let them take care to introduce some dissi-
militude, which may enable them to creep out of those
trammels with which judges and juries are apt to ham-
per the exuberances of fancy.

I own it is difficult to adopt our periods of vigilance
and indulgence so as to render them congenial to the
feelings of our different readers. A young hoyden
sympathetically goes to sleep at the commencement of
a parental lecture, or admonitory letter from a maiden
aunt, and a lady of fashion finds the yawning propen-



THE REFUSAL. 149

sity increase with each preparation for removing the he-
roine into the country. Indeed, unless there be an ab-
solute necessity for a bower-scene between two lovers,
an elopement at the garden gate, or an insuperable
want of moonlight and nightingales for a ready-made
sonnet, I would not recommend going into the country
at all. Very little can be made of a picquet engage-
ment with the curate, and when we have puzzled our
brains to arrange and describe the whole posse comita-
tus of a rustic neighbourhood they are people whom
nobody knows, and unless we do the thing by sheet
work they will not earn us a shilling. Maiden aunts
and rigid grandmothers employed in spreading plais-
ters and scolding forward misses, were tolerable when
Juliet looked through a lattice, and Romeo " with
love-light wings o'erleap'd the garden wall." But as
my aunt and my grandmother are now fixed at their
card-table in the assembly-room of Bath or Margate,
pray let them chaperon Juliet to the ball, and give her
an opportunity of looking at Romeo while he lounges
gracefully against the wainscot, too indolent even to
use his opera-glass, overwhelmed, not with admiration
but fatigue, and vowing not eternal fidelity, but that;
dancing is a bore and the girls are troublesome.

But of all literary dozing the moral nap is most de-
lightful, because it may be enjoyed with the most com-
plete security from interruption, and with the certainty
of diffusing the same divine oblivion of " low-thought-
ed care" over the minds of our readers. This ad-
mirable soporific is thus easily composed. To one
grain of Johnson add a pound of Sterne, melt them
in a crucible till they perfectly amalgamate ; this is the
only difficult part of the process, for the particles are
extremely heterogeneous. You must pour in a little
tincture of religion, which you may procure either
from the " Economy of Human Life," the " Essay
on Man," or any German treatise on divinity. Sweeten
it with a great quantity of Voltaire's liberality, beat it
to a froth, then swallow it while in a state of efferves-



150 THE REFUSAL.

cence, and begin to write immediately. I only know
one narcotic more infallible. Gentle reader, wouldst
thou be immortalized like the sleeping beauty, and
completely " shrouded in a suit of moral spleen ?" read
the whole four and twenty volumes composed by the
elaborate Mrs. Prudentia Homespun, and then it may
be said of thee, requiescat in pace.



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[ 151 J



CHAPTER IX.



" Indeed my nature's easy,
I'll ever live your most obedient wife,
Nor ever any privilege pretend
Beyond your will."

Otway.

FROM the preliminary steps which are already re-
corded, the history of these august nuptials passed to
their next stage of celebrity, and furnished conversa-
tion for routs and morning calls. It will be always ne-
cessary to observe, that I am speaking of old times,
when the entertainment of conversation really existed,
before all the world was in such a hurry that not hav-
ing a moment to lose every body talked at the same
time, like the inhabitants of a rookery in the building
season. As it was not necessary to make fifty calls in
a morning, or to assemble five hundred people at your
evening party, there was time to hear replies, and any
very interesting event might be talked of a week after
it happened. Such was Lord /ivondel's matrimonial
connection. Some termed it an exceedingly proper
union, others a very nabob-like speculation on the part
of his ci-devant excellency, a sort of Othello and Des-
demona story, only they hoped it would end better.
Lastly, at best it was Hebe waiting upon Jupiter, for
all agreed Jupiter's nod would be decisive, and the
pretty young Hebe would soon sink into a mere cup-
bearer.

In order to exemplify these opinions, and to give a
little relief to my leading characters, let us suppose
Lady Mackintosh (now changed into Lady Caddy, by
her husband's receiving the title of Sir Joseph) meeting
the Marchioness of Glenvorne at a masquerade, the
former, dragging her happy baronet from the supper

vol. i. o



152 THE REFUSAL.

table to introduce him to the coui't lady, who, with
much polite affectation of interest, was showering her
congratulations, and lamenting the length of time
which had elapsed since she met Lady Caddy in De-
vonshire, where Sir Joseph had just secured consider-
able parliamentary interest by the purchase of a large
estate. After a thousand thanks, a thousand protesta-
tions of the indescribable transport of this interview,
we will seat the ladies side by side, and place some pine
apple ice before the gentleman during the following
dialogue.

Lady Caddy. " So, this extraordinary match has at
last taken place. I am happy to see Lord Glenvorne
is not inconsolable, he has been supporting the charac-
ter of Mr. Pentagon with infinite: humour."

Marchioness of Glenvorne. " I find, my dear Lndy
Caddy, you continue to be intimately acquainted with
whatever passes in the great world*"

Lady Caddy bowing. " I happened to be at Mande-
ville Castle when Avondel made his conquest. I used
often to look in on poor old Sir Walter, a worthy man,
Lady Glenvorne, but terribly ignorant. Good little
Emily had never seen a creature, so fell in love imme-
diately, and my lord managed so admirably that Sir
Walter actually believed he h<;d violent objections to a
young heiress with lour thousand a year, and twice as
much in reversionary expectations. He! he! he! Such
repugnance would have been singular."

Marchioness of Glenvorne. " It does not often oc-
cur, but we must not judge Lord Avondel by common
rules."

Lady Caddy. " No, certainly. He is a being of a
higher order, splendid talents, first-rate capav ity, uni-
versal information. This makes me fear they never
can be happy, for my good young friend is an every-
day character. Merely a well-meaning girl without
mental energy. But I say this in confidence. I >\ ould
not breathe a syllable to her disadvantage, only your
ladyship's discretion is so unquestionable."



THE REFUSAL. 153

Marchioness of Glenvorne. " Your fiat, my dear
madam, is too flattering. I sincerely hope Lord
Avondel will reward the attachment of his lovely
bride."

Lady Caddy. " Ah, that's my fear after all we
know : and I find it is fixed that Lady Selina Dela-
more is to reside with them. 'Tis downright shock-

in s-"

Marchioness of Glenvorne. " I am inclined to
doubt the authenticity of that report. I believe Lady
Selina is too much wedded to her habits of seclusion to
renew her intercourse with a world she so willingly re-
signed."

Lady Caddy. "Your ladyship rejoices my heart;
for even supposing her to be quite correct nozv, and that
all that was said was not quite true, she would be a
most improper companion for the countess."

Lady Glenvorne. " My dear Lady Caddy, to what
do you allude . ? "

Lady Caddy. " Oh, I never attempt to explain that
mysterious business. My dearest Sir Joseph, I really
must interdict that amazing quantity of ice. You
know the opinion of your phvsicians. The best of
creatures, only such delicate health. The last sen-
tence was uttered in a whisper to the Marchioness, who
observed that Lady Caddy was the happiest woman in
the world to have had two such charming husbands,
adding she was well acquainted with Sir Jeremy.
" Were you, indeed," returned Lady Caddv, " I
thought I never should have survived him. My dear-
est Sir Joseph, I really must take you from the side-
board, you will certainly bring an a spasmodic atcack,
and then only think what I shall endure." The ladies
now curtsied and parted, Lady Caddy satisfied with
the eclat of being seen in close conversation with a
Marchioness, and Lady Glenvorne happy that she had
done her duty in making a little sacrifice to support her
son's parliamentary importance.

The honey-moon had now expired, and the Avon-
dels were re-settled in Berkley-square, whence Sir



!54 THE REFUSAL.

Walter, gratified by the fulfilment of all his earthly
wishes, had removed to Mandeville castle. Emily was
by this time quite convinced that she had not overrated
the virtues of htr lord, and that she had obtained a
complete knowledge of his temper, though uniform
habits of whatever is great and good could not rightly
be described by a term which implies caprice and infir-
mity. She t hevefore continued wrapped in bright and
blissful visions, somewhat clouded however by her re-
gret, that she must often be deprived of her lord's so-
ciety, and her fear that she should be unequal to fill
the public station his ministerial connections required
her to occupy. The society and advice of her aunt
became therefore the only remaining desideratum that
was wanting to crown her bliss, and she was particu-
larly anxious to secure it during her noviciate in life,
well knowing that the errors and awkwardness of a de-
but are remembered by the uncandid when graceful
ease has supplanted trembling ignorance, and the fine
polish of- self-respecting politeness has rubbed off the
irregularities of careless, sincerity. On re-perusing
Lady Selina's letters, she discovered a suggestion
that the separation was not meant to be perpetual, but
was only to last till she was Lady A vondel, and had
made herself perfectly acquainted with her lord's tem-
per and secure of his affections. The interdict was
therefore in her opinion removed, as these events had
taken place ; she accordingly resolved to communicate
her wishes to her husband, and engage him to over-
come her aunt's reluctance. She felt convinced that
mistake and causeless pique, combining with exube-
rant delicacy, had been her motive for declining an
invitation, which probably she would readily accept
were it communicated in proper form, and sanctioned
by the request of him from whom it ought to ori-
ginate.

The countess determined not only to press her suit
immediately, but to heighten the certainty of success by
a little romantic effect. She took care to be surprized
by her lord in the act of kissing her aunt's picture, and



THE REFUSAL. 155

to hurry it away with a mock embarrassment, which
indicated a desire to be thought detected in a fault.
Avondel gaily proclaimed himself of a jealous disposi-
tion, and protested that a regard for his own honour
made it necessary he should discover all her intrigues.
Emily frankly avowed her guilt, told him he had a ri-
val whom she must ever love, on whom she had doated
from her infancy, and without whom she could not be
happy. " It was the person who first taught me to
love you," said she, playfully holding up the picture
he attempted to force from her. Supposing it the mi-
niature of her uncle, the earl threw over it a vacant
glance, which soon settled in a glare of horror. He
shuddered, staggered against a chair, his hand still
holding Lady Avondel, but it was with a cold convul-
sive grasp. The pale and morbid expression of his
countenance alarmed the countess. " You are ill, my


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