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For the present month, there must be what Dr. Johnson called a solution of continuity in my “Literary Reminiscences. Confined to my chamber by what ought to be termed roomatism—then attacked by my old livery complaint—and finally, by a minor, but troublesome malady, the Present has too much prevailed over the Past, to let me indulge in any retrospective reviews. In such cases, on the stage, when a Performer is unable to support his character, a substitute is usually found to read the part; but unfortunately, in the present case there is no part written, and consequently it cannot be read. But apropos of theatricals—there is an anecdote in point.
In the Olympic days of the great Elliston, there was one evening a tremendous tumult at his Theatre, in consequence of the absence of a favorite performer. One man in the pit-a Butcher-was especially vociferous in his cry for “Carl ! Carl! Carl!" Others called for the Manager, who duly made his appearance, and black as the weather looked, he was the very sort of pilot to weather the storm. With one of his princely bows he proceeded to address the House. “ Ladies and Gentlemenbut by your leave I will address myself to a single individual. I will ask that gentleman (pointing to the vociferous Butcher) what right he has to demand the appearance of Mr. Carl ?” “ 'Cos,” said the Butcher, “'cos he's down in the Bill.” Such an unde. niable answer would have staggered any other Manager than Elliston, but he was not easily to be disconcerted. " Because he is down in the bill!” he echoed, in a tone of the loftiest indignation : "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Mr. Carl, so unseasonably, so vociferously, and so unfeelingly called for, is at this very
moment laboring under severe illness—he is in bed. And let me ask, is a man, a fellow-creature, a human being, to be torn from his couch, from his home, on a cold night, from the affectionate attention of his wife and family, at the risk of his valua. ble life perhaps, to go through a fatiguing part because he happens to be DOWN IN THE BILL ?" [Cries of “Shame! shame !" from all parts of the house. ] “And yet, ladies and gentlemen, there stands a man-if I may call him so—a Butcher, that for his own selfish gratification—the amusement of a few short hours—would risk the very existence of a deserving member of society, a good husband, father, friend, and one of your favorite actors, and all, forsooth, because he is DOWN IN THE BILL !" [Universal hooting, with cries of “Turn him out.”] “By all means," acquiesced the Manager, with one of his best bows and the indignant pittites actually hooted and kicked their own champion out of the theatre, as something more than a Butcher, and less than a Christian.
Now I am myself, gentle readers, in the same predicament with Mr. Carl. Like him I am an invalid and like him I am unfortunately down in the Bill. It would not become me to set forth my own domestic or social virtues, or to hint what sort of gap my loss would make in society—still less would it consist with modesty to compare myself with a favorite actor-but as a mere human being I throw myself on your mercy, and ask, in common charity, would you have had me leave my warm bed, to shiver in a printer's damp sheets, at the risk of my reputation perhaps, and for the mere amusement of some half hour, or more probably for no amusement at all—simply because I was “ down in the Bill ?"
But there is no such Butcher, or Butcheress, or little Butcherling, amongst you; and by your good leave and patience, the instalment of my Reminiscences that is over due, shall be paid with interest in the next number.
TIME was, I sat upon a lofty stool,
My commercial career was a brief one, and deserved only a sonnet in commemoration. The fault, however, lay not with the muses. To commit poetry indeed is a crime ranking next to forgery in the counting-house code ; and an Ode or a song dated Copthall Court, would be as certainly noted and protested as a dishonored bill. I have even heard of an unfortunate .clerk, who lost his situation through being tempted by the jingle to subscribe under an account current
Excepted all errors
his employer emphatically declaring that Poetry and Logwood could never coexist in the same head. The principal of our firm on the contrary had a turn for the Belles Lettres, and would have
winked with both eyes at verses which did not intrude into an invoice or confuse their figures with those of the Ledger. The true cause of my retirement from Commercial affairs was more prosaic. My constitution, though far from venerable, had begun to show symptoms of decay: my appetite failed, and its principal creditor, the stomach, received only an ounce in the pound. My spirits daily became a shade lower—my flesh was held less and less firmly-in short, in the language of the price current, it was expected that I must“submit to a decline.” The Doctors who were called in, declared imperatively that a mercantile life would be the death of me—that by so much sitting, I was hatching a whole brood of complaints, and that no Physician would insure me as a merchantman from the Port of London to the next Spring. The Exchange, they said, was against me, and as the Exchange itself used to ring with “ Life let us Cherish,” there was no resisting the advice. I was ordered to abstain from Ashes, Bristles, and Petersburg yellow candle, and to indulge in a more generous diet—to take regular country exercise instead of the Russia Walk, and to go to bed early even on Foreign Post nights. Above all I was recommended change of air, and in particular the bracing breezes of the North. Accordingly I was soon shipped, as per advice, in a Scotch Smack, which “ smacked through the breeze," as Dibdin sings, so merrily, that on the fourth morning we were in sight of the prominent old Steeple of Bonny Dundee."
My Biographer, in the Book of Gems, alludes to this voyage, and infers from some verses-Gadzooks! must one swear to the truth of a song ?”—that it sickened me of the sea. Nothing can be more unfounded. The marine terrors and disagreeables enumerated in the poem, belong to a Miss Oliver, and not to me, who regard the ocean with a natural and national partiality. Constitutionally proof against that nausea which extorts so many wave-offerings from the afflicted, I am as constant as Captain Basil Hall himself, in my regard “for the element that never tires.” Some washy fellows, it is true, Fresh-men from Cam. bridge and the like, affect to prefer river or even pond water for their aquatics—the tame ripple to the wild wave, the prose to “the poetry of motion.” But give me “the multitudinous sea,"
resting or rampant, with all its variable moods and changeable coloring. Methought, when pining under the maladie du pays, on a hopeless, sick bed, inland, in Germany, it would have relieved those yearnings but to look across an element so instinct with English associations, that it would seem rather to unite me to than sever me from my native island. And, truly, when I did at last stand on the brink of the dark blue sea, my home-sick wishes seemed already half fulfilled, and it was not till many months afterwards that I actually crossed the Channel. But I am, besides, personally under deep obligations to the great deep. Twice, indeed, in a calm and in a storm, has my life been threatened with a salt-water catastrophe; but that quarrel has long been made up, and forgiven, in gratitude for the blessing and bracing influence of the breezes that smack of the ocean brine. Dislike the sea !-With what delight aforetime used I to swim in it, to dive in it, to sail on it! Ask honest Tom Woodgate, of Hastings, who made of me, for a landsman, a tolerable boatsman. Even now, when do I feel so easy in body, and so cheerful in spirit, as when walking hard by the surge, listening, as if expecting some whispering of friendly but distant voices, in its eternal murmuring. Sick of the sea! If ever I have a water-drinking fancy, it is a wish that the ocean brine had been sweet, or sour instead of salt, so as to be potable ; for what can be more tempting to the eye as a draught, than the pure fluid, almost invisible with clearness, as it lies in some sandy scoop, or rocky hollow, a true “ Diamond of the Desert,” to say nothing of the same living liquid in its effervescing state, when it sparkles up, hissing and bubbling in the ship's wake—the very Champaigne of water ! Above all, what intellectual solar and soothing syrup have I not derived from the mere contemplation of the boundless main,the most effectual and innocent of mental sedatives, and often called in aid of that practical philosophy it has been my wont to recommend in the present work. For whenever, owing to physical depression, or a discordant state of the nerves, my personal vexations and cares, real or imaginary, become importunate in my thoughts, and acquire, by morbid exaggeration, an undue prominence and importance, what remedy then so infalli. ble as to mount to my solitary seat in the look-out, and thence